The NHS in West Yorkshire is urging people to plan ahead and to choose the right service for their healthcare needs, as it prepares for the festive holiday season, which this year coincides with another period of industrial action by junior doctors.
Junior doctors will strike from Wednesday (20 December 2023) until Saturday (23 December) and from Wednesday 3 January 2024 until 9 January.
This will be the longest period of industrial action to date, and as it will take place over the Christmas and New Year period, it will have a significant impact on services, affecting every NHS trust in West Yorkshire, as well as many GP practices.
Dr James Thomas, Medical Director for the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, said:
“The safety and care of people who use our services is our highest priority, and it is important that people continue to use our services when they need them.
“NHS teams across West Yorkshire will be working throughout the festive season as well as during the strike period to keep people safe and well, but services will be affected. Our region’s hospitals and mental health trusts will be significantly impacted, as will some GP practices, and this will have a knock on effect on other parts of the healthcare system.
“That’s why we’re asking everyone to work with us to ensure they’re prepared for their medical needs during the extended bank holidays and the strike action.
“Some hospital appointments and planned treatment may need to be rearranged but please attend any booked appointments unless you hear otherwise. Healthcare teams will contact people as soon as possible if your appointment needs to be changed.
“If you take regular medication, check you have enough for the holiday period, and if you need more, please order and collect it before the planned strikes. Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet and taking care if you’re doing any DIY or physical activities will also help avoid a visit to your local emergency department.
“If you or someone close to you needs medical help, please get advice about the most appropriate treatment option by using 111 online or calling 111 if you don’t have access to the internet. Remember 999 and A&E departments are for the most serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses.”
NHS 111 is a free, 24 hour online or phone service that provides help and advice on the most appropriate medical care; it can also arrange phone consultations with healthcare professionals and book appointments at urgent treatment and out of hours medical centres. Parents and carers of young children can also find health advice on the West Yorkshire Healthier Together website.
For people who have repeat prescriptions, electronic repeat dispensing (known as eRD) gives them the reassurance of knowing their next prescription will be ready for collection at their pharmacy when they need it, and flexibility so they have medication at busy times. Guidance on how to order a repeat prescription is also available on the NHS website, or you can use the NHS App to order repeat prescriptions.
People may also consider having at home a small stock of basic medicines for minor illness or injury. These may include paracetamol, plasters, indigestion remedy and anti-diarrhoeal medicine. See the NHS website for advice on what you should keep in your first aid kit, or ask your local pharmacist for advice.
Mental health support will continue to be available throughout the holidays and strike period. Visit togetherwe-can.com/mental-health for details of local services. For urgent help in a mental health crisis, call your local 24 hr helpline: 0800 183 0558.
Regardless of the planned strike action, the NHS is urging anyone who needs medical care to continue to come forward in the normal way: attending booked appointments unless they are contacted; using NHS 111 for advice on which service to use; or calling 999 or going to your nearest emergency department (A&E) if someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.
This post is based on a press release issued by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership
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