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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch Reading

Update on industrial action by hospital consultants

Following recent industrial action by junior doctors, for the second time hospital consultants – including those at hospitals across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) – are taking industrial action for 48 hours from 7am on Thursday 24 August to 7am on Saturday 26 August. The Trusts affected by this action in our area are:

  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS FT

  • Oxford Health NHS FT

  • Royal Berkshire NHS FT

  • Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust

  • South Central Ambulance Service NHS FT

Although our local hospitals will continue to provide urgent and emergency care they have had to reschedule appointments and elective inpatient and day case procedures to ensure they keep patients who are currently in hospital safe.

To help the NHS safely manage the impact of industrial action, some routine and non-urgent appointments and procedures, day surgery and some elective surgery across all hospitals in BOB on Thursday 24, Friday 25, and Saturday 26 August have been rescheduled. Some appointments before and after the days of industrial action may also be affected. All patients who are affected are being contacted directly.

This period of industrial action is taking place during the peak of the summer holidays and leading up to the bank holiday weekend so there is significant pressure on our services. Urgent and emergency care services will be affected by the upcoming industrial action in terms of waiting times. Emergency Department colleagues will be working exceptionally hard and will have to prioritise patients who genuinely need emergency care.

Patients with appointments booked on strike days will be contacted by the NHS if their appointment needs to be rescheduled. If they have not been contacted, they should attend their appointment as planned. The NHS is doing everything possible to prioritise patients with the highest clinical needs, including patients who have already waited a long time for their treatment and cancer and dialysis patients.

Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases - when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

If a patient’s condition is less serious, they are likely to face a very long wait, or will be asked to find help elsewhere – whether that be a local Pharmacy or Minor Injuries Unit. If people need medical help or advice or are unsure about whether they should go to hospital, they are advised to contact NHS 111 online unless it is a life-threatening emergency when they should still call 999.

Patients should take advice from 111 / 999 call-handlers on whether there are circumstances where it is suitable for them to make their own way to hospital. During strike days, it is likely 999 and 111 call handlers will be very busy, this may mean longer call response times. As a result, the NHS is urging anyone with non-urgent care need to first seek help from NHS 111 online.

In the meantime, people can help by ensuring prescriptions are up to date and looking out for vulnerable family and friends.

People are reminded to:

  1. Continue to access GPs as normal

  2. Call 111 to get the right service for their needs

  3. Make sure prescriptions are up to date

  4. Stay safe and look out for vulnerable family and friends

  5. Keep appointments unless contacted by the NHS with alternative arrangements

  6. Remember A&E is for emergencies and life-threatening situations

  7. NHS staff are working extremely hard during a very challenging time – please do treat them with respect.

We appreciate people's understanding and co-operation during this time.

Dr Nick Broughton

Chief Executive

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