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Significant disruption expected as junior doctors for NHS Kent and Medway to strike for four days

More industrial action by junior doctors is set to have a significant impact on NHS services.

That’s the warning from bosses at NHS Kent and Medway who are asking everyone to think carefully about the services they use to make sure those who need them the most can get the right care as more strikes are expected this month.

Junior doctors on strike in April 2023
Junior doctors on strike in April 2023

Junior doctors will be striking from 7am on Saturday, February 24 until 11.59pm on Wednesday, February 28.

It comes during one of the busiest times of the year for the NHS.

This action will result in serious challenges for all NHS services in Kent and Medway so anyone in need of services are asked to use 111 online as the first port of call, and only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

Mental health crisis services can be accessed through normal routes.

During strike action, care is available through other NHS services, including urgent treatment centres and pharmacies, which should be used for health needs that are not so urgent.

Kent's A&E departments are in crisis
Kent's A&E departments are in crisis

Bosses say it is vital people are aware of the pressure on health service during the industrial action and make sure they choose the correct services.

They also say the NHS in Kent and Medway is working hard to prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity and trauma.

Work is also under way to make sure patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery are prioritised.

Appointments and procedures, will only be rescheduled where necessary, and will immediately re-book, where possible.

Patients impacted by the strike action will be directly contacted and if you are not contacted, your appointment will take place as planned.

NHS Kent and Medway’s chief medical officer Kate Langford said: “We are working hard with our partners to make sure our critical and emergency services are maintained during industrial action and are grateful to colleagues who step in and support the NHS during this time.

“We anticipate and are planning for the action to have significant impact on services provided across all areas of the NHS, including our hospitals, accident and emergency departments, primary care (GP practices) and mental health services.

The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford
The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford

“Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is important 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.

“Throughout the strikes, the 111/999 phone lines are likely to be very busy.

“We are urging everyone to make sure they use the appropriate services and keep emergency care for those that really need it. You can find out which services are most appropriate for your needs by visiting www.stopthinkchoose.co.uk or seeking help from NHS 111 online.”

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