National industrial action update: February 2024

The NHS in Somerset is working hard to keep services running and people safe during periods of planned industrial action.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced junior doctors will take strike actions from 07:00 on Saturday 24 February to 23:59 on Wednesday 28 February

Hospital Consultants and Specialist Assoc (HCSA) has also announced that their junior doctor members will be on strike from 06:59 on Saturday 24 February until 07:00 on Thursday 29 February

This is part of an ongoing dispute between junior doctors and government and is the longest consecutive strike action ever taken in the history of the NHS.

Industrial action updates from Somerset NHS Foundations Trust can be found on their website.

The safety of patients and staff is paramount and the NHS in Somerset is committed to keeping, where possible, disruption to their services to a minimum during this time.

The NHS has prepared extensively and earlier than ever before for the busier winter period.

It is possible that non-urgent, routine appointments and procedures may be cancelled and postponed, to prioritise treatment for those most acutely unwell in community settings, GP practices and hospitals.

You will be notified directly if you are affected by the changes.

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

What can I do?

People are reminded to use NHS services wisely to help ease pressure on the health and care sector in Somerset. Choosing the right service can help ensure that key services remain available for those who genuinely need urgent healthcare support and advice.

During periods of planned industrial action, people should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency and to make use of NHS 111 online and other services for non-urgent needs.

I have an appointment planned on a day when there is industrial action – what should I do?

Anyone who has a planned appointment dates when industrial action is taking place should continue to attend as normal. Please do not call to check if your appointment is going ahead. You will be contacted directly by the NHS if your appointment needs to be rearranged.

What services can I access?

  • For medical care and advice: people are advised to visit 111 online first before calling 111, leaving 999 for life-threatening medical or mental health emergencies.
  • Have a minor health condition: speak to a local pharmacist -as qualified healthcare professionals, they can help with a wide range of minor health conditions, offering clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses.
  • For symptoms that won’t go away: Call your GP for symptoms that will not go away, to follow up on blood tests results and prescriptions.
  • For minor injuries: you can visit a local minor injuries unit for urgent not life-threatening conditions and injuries such as sprains, fractures, and burns.
  • Struggling with your mental health: If you or someone you love is struggling, help is available through Open Mental Health which offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that anyone can access the right support at the right time. If you need to speak to someone, please contact Mindline Somerset locally on 01823 276892 or freephone 0800 138 1692.
  • Worried about your child: Parents can also find advice and guidance on common childhood illnesses on the HANDi App which is available for Android phones on Google Play or on the App store for iPhone and iPad.

More information is available on the NHS Somerset website, under Choose Well.

When should I dial 999?

On days when industrial action is taking place, people should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency. Ambulances will still be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is the most immediate risk to life.

Call 999 for life-threatening emergencies such as:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fits that are not stopping
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Severe bleeding
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Suspected Stroke
  • Serious head injuries

The NHS UK website has information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E.

How can I help with getting my loved one home from hospital?

While health and social care services in Somerset are working together to discharge patients who are medically fit to leave hospital, families are also being urged to support their loved ones to leave hospital so they can be more comfortable and recover more quickly at home.

Being in hospital during a period of serious illness is the right place to be but evidence shows that once the critical phase of the illness is over, hospital is not the best place for recovery and rehabilitation. The, Hospital@Home campaign promotes the benefits of recovering at home to patients and their families.

More information on planned industrial action can be found on the NHS England website, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions.