The NHS in Kent and Medway is asking the public to think twice before using emergency services as junior doctors and consultants plan to strike for a total of 144 hours this month.

The strikes, which are part of a national dispute over pay and working conditions, will affect all NHS services in the region, including hospitals, GP practices and mental health services.

Junior doctors will walk out for 96 hours, from 7am on Friday, 11 August to 7am on Tuesday, 15 August.

Consultants will follow suit for 48 hours from 7am on Thursday, 24 August to 7am on Saturday, 26 August.

The NHS is working hard to prioritise resources to protect the most urgent and critical care, such as emergency treatment, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma. Patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery will also be prioritised.

However, patients are warned to expect delays and cancellations of appointments and procedures, and to only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency. Mental health crisis services can be accessed through normal routes.

Patients are advised to use alternative services for less urgent health needs, such as NHS 111 online, urgent treatment centres and pharmacies.

NHS Kent and Medway’s Chief Medical Officer Kate Langford said: “We are working closely with our partners to make sure patients can access the care they need, in a safe environment, during industrial action.

“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.

“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 anyone with a non-urgent care need to first seek help from NHS 111 online.”

The NHS will only reschedule appointments and procedures where necessary, and will immediately re-book where possible. Patients impacted by the strike action will be directly contacted. If you are not contacted, your appointment will take place as planned.

By Ed

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