Warning for patients as doctors in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes set to strike for 7 days
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Junior doctors are to go on strike across England for five days this week, from 7am on July 13 until 7am on July 18.
This action will be followed by a 48 hour strike by consultants from July 20, and the strikes are expected to lead to the cancellation of thousands of NHS appointments and operations.
Dr Sarah Whiteman, chief medical director at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) said: “Seven out of the nine days will be affected by industrial action.
“Services, particularly for people who may already have been waiting a long time, are likely to be impacted by that.
“So the message is if you are unwell please use 111 online first, because general practices could also be affected as some junior doctors work in general practice. Within BLMK that’s nearly a quarter of our GP practices.
“And only use 999 in a life threatening emergency,” she said.
She added that the NHS will be maintaining an enhanced services as far as possible, with some services being commissioned from primary medical care, such as extra out of hours and extended hours clinics.
Dr Whiteman is a Milton Keynes-based GP, and she worked at Luton and Dunstable hospital during the last strike.
“It was busy and it was hard work,” she said. “And it was very interesting to me as a GP to go back to that environment and lots of the cases I saw were primary care related.
“I really appreciated the support from consultants, and I’m sure junior doctors do.
“I would say that almost without exception that most of the patients I saw or we saw during that time were very understanding of the situation generally.
“Yes, there were there were challenges, but on the whole most people had a sense of being in it together, and I think that’s what we have to foster this time as well.
“Of course the main thing is, if you really need help help it’ll be there,” she said.
If you have an appointment booked and the NHS hasn’t contacted you, then do attend your appointment as normal as it is trying to maintain as normal a service as possible.
It will be in touch with people whose appointments do need changing.
Anyone who needs medical supplies or repeat prescriptions over the next 10 days should ensure that these are ordered before the action.
Residents can keep up to date on the NHS industrial action by visiting the BLMK Health and Care website at www.blmkhealthandcarepartnership.org and by following local health providers on social media.