Industrial action February 2024 | News and events


Industrial action February 2024

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East region braces itself for more NHS strike disruption while facing high winter pressures

Junior doctors across the East of England are set to join national strike action from 7am Saturday 24 February, through to 11.59pm on Wednesday 28 February. This will impact on most routine care, as the NHS prioritises urgent and emergency services.

The planned strike by junior doctors, who make up around half of all doctors in the NHS, comes at a time when ongoing winter pressures are generating high demand for NHS services by patients across the east.

Weekly figures released yesterday (Thursday 22 February) show there were an average of 312 more patients in the region’s hospitals each day last week (10,469) than the same period in 2023 (10,157).

Despite the NHS in the East of England having almost 250 more general and acute beds compared to the same week last year (10,974 versus 10,730) bed occupancy remains high, with 96% of adult general and acute beds on 18 February occupied.

Analysis of NHS England data shows more than one in 10 days have been impacted by strike action in the past year. By the end of this action, hospital doctors will have taken 44 days or 1,056 hours of industrial action, equating to around 12% of the year.

Trusts from across the region are working hard to mitigate the knock-on effect of the planned industrial action, putting in place measures to maintain care for those who need it urgently, and rescheduling planned appointments which are now unable to proceed.

Patients are still advised to attend their appointments unless they are contacted and if appointments are postponed, an alternative date will be offered as soon as possible.

Dr Edward Morris, Regional Medical Director for the NHS in the East of England, said:

Whilst we continue to experience high demand for NHS services across the region, we prepare for yet more disruption triggered by another round of industrial action. Many planned appointments unfortunately are likely to be postponed during this time.

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

Across the region NHS colleagues are working incredibly hard to ensure urgent and life-saving care continues to be offered, during more than a year of strike action. We are delivering progress on our recovery plans, but this latest strike only adds to the challenges faced at one of the most difficult times of the year.

Please help us through this period, by using NHS services wisely, such as NHS 111 online or calling 111 for everything other than life and limb threatening situations. As always, community services like pharmacies and GPs also continue to provide expert advice and support.

The previous round of industrial action by junior doctors earlier this year in January saw over 12,500 hospital appointments in the East of England disrupted and at least 2,600 staff in the region absent each day on weekdays. In total across England, over 1.3 million hospital appointments across the NHS have been impacted by strikes.

The NHS is advising the public to use 111 online as the first port of call for urgent but not life-threatening issues during industrial action so that they can be directed to the best place for their needs. Patients who need medical care should continue to use 999 or come forward to A&E as normal.

GP practices will continue to be open during the junior doctors’ strike and please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments, unless contacted and told otherwise.

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