‘Life or death’ warning issued amid doctor strikes as NHS urges Brits to act responsibly and 'avoid A&E’ | The Sun

AS JUNIOR doctors in England walk out for a second day this week, NHS chiefs have urged Brits to only go to A&E for "serious or life threatening emergencies".

In a video message posted to X, national medical director of the NHS England Professor Sir Stephen Powis pleaded with the public to "use services wisely" in the run-up to Christmas.

He warned services would be facing"severe disruption" as junior doctors strike between December 20 until 7 am on December 23.

"To help us provide care to those that need it most, we're asking the public to only use 999 and A&E in life-threatening emergencies and to contact NHS 111 for non-urgent needs," he said.

He added that people with appointments over these days should still attend them if haven't been cancelled or postponed.

NHSE added: "Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and serious life-threatening cases.

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"When someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk."

Meanwhile, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives warned that people could put at risk of "severe harm" due to delays in ambulances handing over patients to hospitals.

It told LBC that some paramedics have spent "the entirety of their shifts" outside hospitals, while at at least 36,000 people have been endangered due to handover blockages.

Aside from three days this month, junior doctors in the British Medical Association (BMA) also plan to strike from January 3 to 9 next year – the longest walkout in NHS history.

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It comes after talks between the trade union and Department of Health and Social Care failed to produce a deal to end the long-running dispute.

Junior doctors are demanding a 35 per cent pay rise to make up for the fall in value of their pay and say the government's offer is nowhere near enough.

But repeated industrial action has resulted in thousands of hospital appointments being cancelled and postponed, hampering efforts to cut backlogs.

Earlier this month, the professor warned only "life-or-death" patients can be confident they will be seen quickly at hospitals as strikes kick off and winter pressures mount.

“It is likely to be another very challenging winter and we will also now prepare for the impact of the latest strikes this Christmas," he said.

“Once more we will prioritise urgent and emergency care to protect patient safety and ensure those in life-saving emergencies can receive the best possible care.”

With the junior doctors' pay row raging on, it's the second consecutive Christmas that NHS services have faced significant disruption due to industrial action.

As nurses and ambulances walked out in the days before Christmas last year, NHSE last year urged Brits to take "sensible measures to keep themselves and others safe" in order to not end up in A&E.

This included "drinking responsibly or stocking up on their medication".

Now, London hospital bosses at King’s, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and Lewisham and Greenwich have said they're bracing themselves for an increase in patients as they grapple with a reduction in staff.

"The latest wave of industrial action comes at a time when emergency departments at south east London hospitals are already extremely busy," Professor Clive Kay, Professor Ian Abbs and Ben Travis wrote in a joint statement.

"Flu and other winter viruses are on the rise and there is added pressure due to Christmas party season."

"We are working hard to ensure patient safety is maintained and emergency services will be there for those that need them.

"But we would really appeal for people to use urgent and emergency services appropriately during the strike period to help our teams prioritise those patients who need care most urgently.

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“As Christmas and New Year celebrations return to pre-pandemic levels, we would encourage people to take extra care to keep themselves safe and healthy and only use A&E in times of emergency.

"We will be here for those that need us but our services will be under stress and extremely busy.”

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