In response to the planned industrial action announced by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the NHS locally is making plans to minimise disruption as far as possible and to safeguard patient care.
Patients who have a planned hospital operation, outpatient clinic or procedure on either Thursday 15 or Tuesday 20 December 2022 should attend as usual unless they hear from their NHS Trust to advise otherwise.
Community physical health and mental health services will be prioritised to ensure patients most in need are supported. This will include the continued provision of mental health crisis, palliative and end of life care and any time sensitive, complex community care for vulnerable adults and children.
Where care arrangements are being changed, patients will receive official notification.
Patients with life-threatening conditions or serious injuries will continue to be seen at the two Emergency Departments (A&E) and other critical care and cancer services will be running on these days.
The intention is to keep Community Minor Injury and Illness Units open, but the level of coverage is subject to safe staffing levels on each day. The public are advised to use the local MIIU phone line – 0300 421 7777 or 111 to check availability and to book appointments at the most suitable Unit to meet their needs. Social media and media will also be updated.
Many parts of the NHS – hospitals, community services and GP practices – are likely to feel the impact of industrial action – either directly or indirectly – so local people are being urged to use services responsibly, including keeping 999 and A&E clear for genuine emergencies.
If people have an urgent care need, but are not sure which service to use, they can visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111 for advice. The 111 phone service can book people into local NHS services if required.
The local asapglos.nhs.uk website and ASAP Glos NHS app also provide step by step care advice and information on the right service to use. This includes information on community pharmacies, which are a great first port of call for minor health issues and can advise on whether another NHS service is needed.
There will be no disruption to patient visiting arrangements on either of these days. However, the local NHS Trusts are asking relatives and carers to do everything they can to work with their staff to get their loved ones home from hospital as quickly and as safely as possible, with additional support if necessary, from local NHS community services or adult social care teams.
Industrial action by ambulance service workers is also likely to take place on 21 December and 28 December across the region. Life threatening calls and other very serious conditions that may require urgent assessment will continue be responded to and senior clinical decision making will also be in place to prioritise other urgent calls.
The public is being asked to follow the same advice on keeping 999 and A&E services clear for life threatening conditions and serious injuries and accessing appropriate healthcare advice and services.
Chief Medical Officer at NHS Gloucestershire, Dr Andy Seymour said:
“One Gloucestershire health and care partners are working closely together to minimise disruption and ensure those in greatest need continue to have access to high quality care and support during the days of industrial action.
The public can help too by thinking carefully about their healthcare options and getting advice when needed from NHS 111 and ASAP Glos NHS. Advice will also be available through local NHS social media channels.”
Further public information about the Industrial Action, including FAQs, has been published by NHS England and can be found here.