NHS leaders have urged people to think about where to seek help before heading to A&E or calling 999 as the next run of industrial action by junior doctors nears.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) are due to strike from 7am on Thursday, June 27, until 7am on Tuesday, July 2.

This will be the 11th round of action by the union’s members.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has put plans in place to ensure safe levels of care during this period. However, it has called on people to play their part in supporting healthcare services by only using emergency care when they really need it.

Dr Sean Fenwick, the Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations and co-chair of the regional urgent and emergency care network, said: “Our emergency departments are always extremely busy places, but we’re expecting them to be under greater pressure during this period of industrial action.

“We will have safe levels of care available at our hospitals, but as ever, we need to prioritise treatment for those who are most seriously ill or hurt. That means anyone else could be waiting a long time and then might still be asked to seek treatment elsewhere.

“This is why we want people to think where they need to seek help before coming to hospital. NHS 111 Online is a good place to check and available 24/7. It can put you in the right direction from the start and is also really helpful if you need advice.

“GP surgeries will remain open and pharmacies are always a good place to seek help. We have already rescheduled some appointments as we prepared for this strike, so unless you’ve heard otherwise, please still come for your visit.”

NHS 111 Online offers a symptom checker. It can guide people to the service they need, while self-care advice is available online from the NHS at nhs.uk.

Anyone needing help for their mental health can visit the Check your mental health symptoms page.

Pharmacy services can be found by visiting the Find a Pharmacy page.

Source: https://www.stsft.nhs.uk/news/latest-news/patients-warned-expect-emergency-department-delays-next-round-doctors-industrial-action-approaches