People living across Lancashire and South Cumbria are being urged to use health services appropriately ahead of NHS industrial action planned by junior doctors next week.
The British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) gained a national mandate for strike action and members will begin their 72-hour strike on the morning of Monday 13 March and finish on the morning of Thursday 16.
Dr David Levy, medical director at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, which organises health services for the region, said there is likely to be significant service disruption and has urged people to make NHS 111 Online their first port of call for non-emergency health needs.
NHS 111 Online is available by visiting https://111.nhs.uk/
Dr Levy said: “The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to mitigate risks to patient safety and manage any disruption but there is likely to be disruption to some general practice, outpatient and elective surgical services across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
“Emergency care and other critical services such as maternity departments will be open as usual throughout this period of industrial action. The NHS will do everything it can to go ahead with planned procedures during industrial action - especially for patients in greatest clinical need.
“The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled. If you have not been contacted, please attend your appointment as planned.
“We ask people to continue to use services wisely during industrial action and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to those who need it most. If you need urgent health advice on a day of strike action, but it is not an emergency, try NHS 111 Online and a clinician will call you back if needed. Please continue to only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.
“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.”
Local NHS services will also keep their websites and social media accounts up-to-date with information about local service disruption – so please check before you travel.