Junior doctors across Sussex walk out in longest NHS strike Brighton News

Healthcare workers are taking industrial action for six days, which is expected to cause delays in care for thousands of patients across England.

The industrial action, which began at 7am today and will end at 7am on January 9, comes at one of the busiest times of the year for the NHS as it grapples with increased pressure from winter viruses and a rise in people coming forward who delayed seeking help over the holidays.

Junior doctors were seen outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton holding up banners that called for “fair wages” as the first day of industrial action got underway.

The NHS has warned that the strike action, which is expected to see up to half of the medical workforce in England walk out, could lead to “the most difficult start to the year the NHS has ever faced”.

Emergency and urgent care will be prioritised during the strikes and almost all routine care will be affected.

However, patients are being urged to still come forward to seek care if they need it.

The Argus: Junior doctors on a picket outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital in BrightonJunior doctors on a picket outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “This January could be one of the most difficult starts to the year the NHS has ever faced.

“Six consecutive days of industrial action comes at one of our busiest periods – the action will not only have an enormous impact on planned care, but comes on top of a host of seasonal pressures such as covid, flu, and staff absences due to sickness – all of which is impacting on how patients flow through hospitals.

“Our colleagues across the health service are doing their very best for patients every day, with extensive preparations in place, but there’s no doubt they are starting 2024 on the back foot – not only will action impact next week, it will continue to have a serious impact in the weeks after, as we recover services and deal with additional demand.

“However, I cannot stress enough that people who need care must come forward as they usually would – using 999 and A&E in life-threatening emergencies and 111 online for everything else.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of NHS appointments postponed due to junior doctor strikes

Professor Yvonne Doyle, former medical director at Public Health England, told Times Radio that the health service is making arrangements to cover as much as possible during the strike action.

She said: “This is the period of the year when the NHS is always at its most stretched.

“There is quite a lot of infection at the moment: more flu, quite a lot of Covid, there is a good deal of norovirus.

“There are things that everyone can do to actually help with that, and also look after themselves.

“Top of the list, for those who are eligible, is to get vaccinated, but also if you have got infection, try and limit your contact with people.

“The other factor at this time of the year is cold weather – so older people, and people who are vulnerable to stroke, should try to keep warm.”

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This notice was published: 2024-01-03 12:34:00

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