Industrial action by junior doctors this month is likely to have a significant impact on all NHS services during one of the busiest times of the year for the NHS.

NHS Kent and Medway is asking everyone to think carefully about which services they use, to make sure those most in need can access the right care.

Junior doctors will be striking from 7am on Wednesday, 20 December to 7am on Saturday, 23 December – a period of 72 continuous hours.

There will be a second strike for 144 continuous hours taking place from 7am on Wednesday, 3 January to 7am on Tuesday, 9 January 2024.This action will result in serious challenges for all NHS services in Kent and Medway.

Please use 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency. Mental health crisis services can be accessed through normal routes.

Care is available through other NHS services, including urgent treatment centres and pharmacies, which should be used for health needs that are not so urgent. It is vital people are aware of the pressure on health service during the industrial action and make sure they choose the correct services.   

 The NHS in Kent and Medway is working hard to prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and to make sure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery.  

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.  

NHS Kent and Medway’s Chief Medical Officer Kate Langford said:

“In January we will have had more than a year of industrial action across different staff groups. January is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for the NHS, and the industrial action will add increased pressure to the system.

“We are working hard with our partners to make sure our critical and emergency services are maintained during industrial action and are grateful to colleagues who step in and support the NHS during this time.

“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 everyone to make sure they use the appropriate services and keep emergency care for those that really need it. You can find out which services are most appropriate for your needs by visiting  or seeking help from NHS 111 online.”  

By Ed

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