'Significant disruption' expected as doctors in Bedfordshire prepare for two-day strike

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Emergency services, maternity and ward-based care will be prioritised

NHS consultant doctors are set to take strike action this week, and senior health service leaders are again urging the public to choose services wisely during the industrial action.

Consultants will strike for 48 hours from 6.59am on Thursday, August 24 to the same time on Saturday, August 26.

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Hospitals will run differently during this time, with resources prioritised to provide urgent and emergency services, maternity services and ward-based care. Many non-urgent operations, treatments and routine appointments will need to be rearranged with patients contacted directly.

Prepare now for strike action by doctors in BedfordshirePrepare now for strike action by doctors in Bedfordshire
Prepare now for strike action by doctors in Bedfordshire

NHS leaders are urging people to choose health and care services wisely and to take simple steps to ensure care is available to patients who need it most. This includes using 111 Online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to attend emergency departments only if it is a life-threatening emergency. Most GP practices and pharmacies will run as usual.

Dr Sarah Whiteman, chief medical director for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said: “You can prepare by making sure beforehand that your medicines cabinet at home is well-stocked with first aid materials as well as any regular medication which you or your family may need. With the warm weather over the next couple of days, we’d also encourage people to take precautions to stay well by keeping out of the sun if you can, wearing sunscreen, and making sure you stay hydrated.

“You should only attend an accident and emergency department if you require emergency, life-saving care. Anybody needing non-urgent care should seek help from 111 Online in the first instance at 111.nhs.uk.

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“Previous strikes in the NHS this year have seen many hospital appointments postponed, and we again expect to see significant disruption. We expect services to be busier than usual, and there are likely to be longer waiting times, particularly at our hospitals’ Emergency Departments.”

Advice from the care board:

If you need urgent help for a health condition, use NHS 111 Online at 111.nhs.uk or call 111. NHS 111 can also send an ambulance and can book an appointment for you in some services like urgent treatment centres.

If you are in a mental health crisis, call NHS 111 and get straight through to mental health help by selecting option 2.

If you require a repeat prescription for regular medication, put in your request now, so that it can be looked at in good time.

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The NHS website has lots of advice to help you to look after yourself when you have minor symptoms. There is also information about what is a serious medical emergency: When to call 999.

Pick up a few medicines while you’re shopping so that you can look after minor illnesses or injuries yourself. You can buy essentials like paracetamol, ibuprofen, plasters, antiseptic cream, allergy medicine and indigestion remedies from pharmacies and supermarkets for less than the cost of a prescription. Remember: cheaper, non-branded versions of medicines work just as well as branded products.

If you need a medicine which you can buy only at the pharmacy, you can use the Find A Pharmacy tool at www.nhs.uk.

Information on these services and self-help advice can be found in Your Guide to Local Health Services, which is available online.