Important information for patients during consultant and junior doctor strikes

Date: 13/09/2023 | Category: General News

The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that hospital consultants will take part in strike action from:

  • 7am on Tuesday 19 September to 7am on Thursday 21 September, and then from 7am on Monday 2 October to 7am on Thursday 5 October

In addition, junior doctors will also strike from:

  • 7am on Wednesday 20 September to 7am on Saturday 23 September and then from 7am on Monday 2 October to 7am on 7am on Thursday 5 October.

The strike action will significantly impact services run by the Trust. This includes services at Bedford Hospital and the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D).

We want to assure all patients that we are working hard to make sure we can continue to provide emergency and life-preserving services during these days of industrial action. However, to help us safely manage the impact of the strikes, we anticipate we will need to postpone some non-urgent appointments and procedures scheduled for the strike days.

Our teams will contact patients directly if we need to re-schedule your operation or appointment. However, if you have an appointment at either of our hospitals on these days, please assume this is going ahead unless you have been told otherwise.

Helping us manage demand

If you need medical advice but it’s not an emergency, please consider using a different service to get the care you need. You could:

In our Emergency Departments (EDs), we will assess you as quickly as we are able to. If we feel you need to stay, we will aim to treat you as soon as possible, this will be based on the urgency of your clinical need.

If we feel you could be seen elsewhere, we will ask you to do so and advise you on the most appropriate place to go. If you then decide to stay, please be aware that you could be waiting a long time to be seen.

We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this has caused and fully appreciate everyone’s understanding and co-operation during this challenging period whilst this national dispute between the Government and Trade Unions continues.

Paul Tisi, Medical Director at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said,

“We are grateful to our staff for their hard work, flexibility and commitment to ensuring our patients can continue to receive urgent and emergency care during this time.

Thank you to the public for their ongoing support. We would like to remind everybody that we run a ‘No Excuse for Abuse’ policy at the Trust and violence or aggression towards our staff and/or patients will not be tolerated.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What if I have an appointment on a strike day?

Everyone who has an appointment should attend as planned unless we have contacted you to reschedule. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as normal.

If your appointment is cancelled due to the industrial action, we will contact you to rebook it as soon as possible. Please be patient with us whilst we work to recover our services – we will be in touch with you.­

Should I cancel my appointment on the day of strikes?

No, if we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.

Is there anything I should do now?

To avoid delays in getting your medicines or the risk of running out of medicines during strikes please order prescriptions in good time.

What if I need urgent or emergency care?

Anyone who needs urgent care should use NHS111 online to be assessed and directed to the right care for them. If you do not have internet access then 111 helpline is available. When someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should seek emergency care in the normal way, by calling 999.

What should I do if I need an ambulance?

Patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.

For all other health care needs, support will be available through NHS111 online (if you do not have internet access then 111 helpline is available) or at your local GP or pharmacy.

Can Bedfordshire Hospitals provide safe services during strikes?

The Trust is working hard to minimise the risk to patient safety. This means we will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and ensure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery. The BMA has said that during consultant strikes, a Christmas day level of service will be provided, meaning emergency care will continue to be available. We will only reschedule appointments and procedures where it is necessary and will rebook immediately, where possible. Unfortunately these strikes will have a significant impact upon planned and routine care.