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Strike action by junior doctors and hospital dentists (13-16 March)

Posted on: 13 March 2023

This week (13-16 March), strikes by junior doctors and hospital dentists in England will cause major disruption and thousands of patients may face postponements to their treatment.

The NHS is making significant progress against its elective recovery plan, with the number of people waiting over 18 months cut by over 9,000 in January compared to the previous month – and down almost two thirds on its peak in September 2021.

During strike action the NHS will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, and trauma, and ensure patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery are prioritised.

Will my appointment be cancelled?

Your GP or dental appointments and procedures will only be cancelled where it is necessary, and appointments will be rescheduled immediately, where possible. 

The NHS is asking patients to choose services wisely during industrial action and take simple steps to help 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 only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

What do I do if I need urgent medical care?

Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really 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 the NHS has not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned. The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action.

Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise.

What do I do if I’m unsure where to go for medical advice?

If you need medical help or advice, or you are unsure about whether you should go to hospital, go to NHS 111 online unless it is a life-threatening emergency when you should still call 999.

Patients should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency (when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk).

Are ambulances still responding?

Ambulances will still be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is an immediate risk to life. There will be fewer ambulances on the roads during industrial action, with the NHS prioritising those with life-threatening needs. As a result patients whose conditions are not life-threatening are unlikely to get an ambulance on strike days.