NHS strike: 'Significant disruption' expected around Merseyside as junior doctors strike this Christmas
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Local NHS bosses are warning that residents around Merseyside will experience 'significant service disruption' over the festive period as industrial action by junior doctors is set to take place during Christmas and early in the New Year. The latest round of walkouts follows months of strike action over pay and will be the longest strike in NHS history.
The British Medical Association (BMA) announced the strike earlier this month, stating negotiators for the Department of Health and Social Care failed to "put forward a credible offer to end the pay dispute".
Tens of thousands of junior doctors will take part in the industrial action, with the BMA claiming, "it is clear the Government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008".
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the new strikes were "disappointing" and would result in "more disruption for patients and put pressure on NHS services and other NHS staff as we enter a busy winter period and that risks patients' safety".
The spokesman said the government had been making "significant progress" in negotiations and if the junior doctors called off their strikes they would immediately go back to the table to continued negotiations.
When will junior doctors go on strike?
A 72-hour walkout will start from 7.00am on Wednesday, December 20 and finish at 7.00am on Saturday, December 23.
Six days of further strike action will commence at 7.00am on Wednesday, January 3 until 7am on Tuesday, January 9.
How will Merseyside be impacted?
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Deputy Medical Director, Dr Fiona Lemmens, said health and care services across the region are "already under winter pressure" and will be "significantly" disrupted.
She continued: “The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to mitigate risks to patient safety and manage any disruption, including industrial action, but inevitably a walkout on this scale – and at this time of year – will lead to significant service disruption.
"Everyone should still call 999 or go to A&E in an emergency when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. But if you need urgent medical help and you're not sure where to go, use NHS 111 online to get assessed and directed to the right place for you.
“Our local hospitals are working hard to ensure all patients who are fit to return home for Christmas can do so safely. If you have a loved one who is ready to be discharged from hospital, you can assist by helping to get them home as soon as practically possible.”
Emergency care and other critical services such as maternity departments will remain open across Merseyside and life-threatening calls will be responded to. Some planned appointments will still go ahead and you should still attend unless contacted directly by the NHS to reschedule.
Local services will regularly update their websites with further information as we near the strike.
Using NHS 111
The NHS is advising that NHS 111 should be used for all non-emergency healthcare needs during industrial action and warns that the strike is expected to cause serious disruption.
The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If needed, NHS 111 can also arrange a call back from a nurse, doctor or paramedic or an appointment at the most appropriate local service including local pharmacies, urgent treatment centres, GP practices or A&E. More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.