NHS South Essex is working with GPs, community services, mental healthcare providers and the two hospitals in its area on robust plans to minimise the impact of the planned BMA industrial action.
The industrial action, on Thursday (21 June), will have an impact on non-urgent, planned care in hospitals and routine appointments with GPs only. Emergency and urgent care will not be affected.
NHS South Essex is asking patients:
Please do not contact your GP surgery on 21 June unless you have an urgent or emergency care need that cannot wait until the next day. (Patients are asked to use their own discretion when determining if they have an urgent or emergency care need).
Please use services responsibly so they are not put under additional pressure. Please do not use A&E unless you have an emergency or urgent need for treatment. For more information on how to Choose Well, visit www.southessex.nhs.uk
Please be aware of the industrial action and the impact it will have on services on 21 June. Your patience and consideration for staff who are working on 21 June is appreciated.
Please contact your local pharmacist for information and advice on minor illnesses and ailments.
Please contact NHS Direct for advice and information. NHS Direct is available on 0845 4647 as usual on 21 June.
Please consult the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) for comprehensive health information and symptom checkers.
Please use the Orsett Minor Injuries Unit, which will be open as usual, if you have a minor illness or injury. The unit, in Rowley Road, is open 10am to 7.30pm.
The British Medical Association announced plans for a 24-hour period of industrial action over NHS pensions. When it balloted its members, almost 80% of respondents voted in favour of taking part in industrial action and just over 63% said they were prepared to take part in the industrial action.
There are 147 GP practices in south Essex. GPs are not required to inform the PCT they will be taking industrial action. However, early indications are that 31 practices will be taking action.
HOW THIS AFFECTS SERVICES:
GP practices will be open for the same number of hours as they usually would be on the day of the industrial action, but there will be no routine appointments available with GPs or nurses from practices participating in the action.
If you need urgent or emergency care from a GP or nurse, this will not be refused and care will be provided.
If you have a pre-booked routine appointment to see a GP or nurse on the day of industrial action (including non-urgent consultations and monitoring of long term conditions) the practice will contact you shortly to advise you of alternative arrangements, if needed.
Walk in health centres
The walk-in services at St Luke’s Health Centre in Southend and Thurrock Health Centre in High Street, Grays, will be open as usual from 8am to 8pm. However, services are expected to be busy so please only use these services if you cannot wait for a routine appointment with your own GP.
Doctors at Basildon hospital and Southend hospital will be providing a full emergency service on the day and will ensure any urgent care is carried out. Inpatients will be fully cared for.
It is expected that all doctors working with the mental health services provided by SEPT (South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust) will attend their place of work and all urgent cases and emergencies will be dealt with. SEPT anticipates very little impact on inpatient, assessment or crisis services. Admissions and discharges will be dealt with as usual at SEPT’s psychiatric hospitals/units in Basildon, Rochford and Wickford.
There will be a small number of unavoidable rescheduling of non-urgent appointments at the hospitals. Any patient that may be affected will be notified in advance and their appointment rebooked at the earliest opportunity.
Community service provision will continue as normal, although it is recognised that services will be busier than normal as a result of supporting the wider health system.
Andrew Pike, Chief Executive of NHS South Essex, says: “I would like to reassure patients that if they have an emergency or urgent need for treatment they will be treated as usual.
“This day of industrial action will have some impact on non-urgent services in south Essex. In the limited number of cases where patient appointments are postponed, our GPs and hospitals will rearrange appointments at the earliest opportunity.
“NHS South Essex is working with GPs and all its providers to minimise the impact of the strike and asks patients to use services responsibly so we can help to relieve pressure on services as much as possible. However, we understand that this will cause some disruption and inconvenience to patients in south Essex.”
If patients have any concerns on the day of the industrial action, they can contact their local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on Freephone 0800 587 9159, who will be able to assist them.