19 December 2023

NHS leaders in Sussex call for the public’s support during industrial action

People are being urged to support NHS services and know how to get help over the coming days as health and care teams prepare for further industrial action.

Help us keep services running safely during industrial action

Junior doctors take strike action from tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7am until 7am on Saturday 23 December.

After Christmas and New Year, the longest action ever by junior doctors is also planned from 7am on Wednesday 3 January to 7am on Tuesday 9 January, meaning that in the coming three weeks, only four weekdays in the NHS are unaffected by holidays or industrial action.

Despite extensive planning and cover arrangements in place, the latest strikes by junior doctors are expected to cause widespread disruption – from the impact on almost all routine care, to an extra admin burden and difficulties with discharging patients.

As ever, our priority is to provide high quality NHS care to the local communities, patients, families and carers we serve.

However, local NHS services are already seeing high numbers of people needing care and support and increasing numbers needing to be hospitalised for various issues, including respiratory illnesses. This is already putting services under significant pressure and it is expected to increase further as we approach Christmas and into the New Year, coinciding with a reduction in medical workforce due to industrial action.

All health and care partners in Sussex have been working together since September to develop a robust winter plan and that plan is now operational. However, now additional action is needed to prepare the local NHS for the increased pressure expected to be seen on services during the Christmas and New Year period.

We are putting in additional measures to help manage this increase in demand, including:

  • enhancing support for people to remain at home,
  • increasing virtual ward beds,
  • enhancing urgent community response,
  • maximising home visits out of hours,
  • a focus on discharge across all health and care partners, and
  • a targeted approach to those who regularly use urgent care services, including increased access to care homes with high levels of hospital admissions.

However, it must be recognised that this will be a very challenging period for the NHS. There will be lower rotas as it is the festive period, activity is high, and it comes at the end of a year where there has been significant industrial action.

The support from the public during previous periods of industrial action has been vital and has enabled local services to care for those most in need.

Health and care partners are asking the public again to ‘Help Us Help You’ this winter and play their part by:

  • Know the services available to you and using the right one for your needs at the right time.
  • To take responsibility for your own health and wellness, by staying as healthy as possible, looking after yourself and asking for support when you need it.
  • Look out for your neighbours, relatives and friends to help them stay healthy and seek help if they become ill.
  • Get your Covid-19 and flu vaccinations if you are eligible as soon as possible.
  • Be respectful to health and care staff and remember they are trying to help you and others as quickly as they can.

By working in this way together we will help make sure everyone can get the support and care they need this winter.

For more information visit the Get the right care pages