10 March 2023

The NHS is working hard to keep patients safe during planned strikes, while delivering the best care possible, and patients should continue to attend appointments as planned unless contacted to reschedule.

The next planned industrial action is from junior doctors, with strike action planned from Monday 13 March until Thursday 16 March 2023.

Nobody should put off seeking urgent or emergency care during the strikes, with key services continuing to operate.

Please also see information from our colleagues at NHS Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin – here

“Think” which service during upcoming industrial action – here

FAQs

What is happening?

Trade unions representing some NHS staff are in dispute with the Government over the 2022/23 pay award. A number of the unions have balloted their NHS members to take part in industrial action. As a result members of the following unions are striking on the dates listed below:

13 March – Junior doctors who are part of the BMA and the HCSA, and some members of the British Dental Association who are hospital dentists on junior doctors contracts at a small number of NHS Trusts  and healthcare workers who are part of GMB at a small number of NHS Trusts

14 March – Junior doctors who are part of the BMA and the HCSA and some members of the British Dental Association who are hospital dentists on junior doctors contracts at a small number of NHS Trusts

15 March – Junior doctors who are part of the BMA and the HCSA and some members the British Dental Association who are hospital dentists on junior doctors contracts at a small number of NHS Trusts

16 March – Junior doctors who are part of the BMA and the HCSA, and some members the British Dental Association who are hospital dentists on junior doctors contracts at a small number of NHS Trusts

20 March – Ambulance workers who are part of GMB and Unite

24 March – Healthcare workers who are part of GMB at a small number of NHS Trusts

17 April – Healthcare workers who are part of GMB at a small number of NHS Trusts

What do strikes mean for NHS services in my area?

Not every hospital and ambulance service will be affected by strike action. You can check which Trusts are affected on each trade union’s website:

GMB 

Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Unite

UNISON 

HCSA

British Medical Association (BMA)

What if I need urgent or emergency care?

Anyone who needs urgent care should use NHS111 online to be assessed and directed to the right care for them. If you do not have internet access then 111 helpline is available. When someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should seek emergency care in the normal way, by calling 999.

If staff are out on strike what does it mean for emergency care?

In advance of strike action, we work with unions to agree which members of staff can continue to work to ensure safe levels of care. These agreements are called derogations and often mean that some health union members will continue their work in line with an agreement between employers and unions. Where derogations have not been agreed we may have to move staff from other departments within a hospital to ensure we can continue to provide emergency care. Unfortunately, this could mean disruption to some routine appointments and procedures.

What will this mean for appointments?

During strike action we will prioritise emergency treatment and patients seeking urgent treatment will be seen. Unfortunately, this means we may have to prioritise emergency care over some routine appointments and procedures. Everyone who has an appointment should attend as planned, unless your local NHS provider has contacted you to reschedule. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment even if your Trust is affected by strikes.

Will emergency care be affected on strike days?

Emergency care will continue to be available across all parts of the country. It is really important that in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or their life is at risk patients continue to come forward as normal.

When will I find out if my appointment is rescheduled?

The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action. This is likely to be a text, phone call or a letter and you should be offered an alternative date for your appointment. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.

If my appointment is rescheduled, will I be put back to the bottom of the waiting list?

Any appointments that need to be rescheduled will be done so as a priority.

Should I cancel my appointment on the day of strikes?

No, if we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.

Is there anything I should do now?

To avoid delays in getting your medicines or the risk of running out of medicines during strikes please order prescriptions in good time.

I have a loved one who will be a hospital inpatient on strike day – how will their care be affected?

All hospital inpatients will be informed of how their care will be impacted on a ward-by-ward basis by the staff involved in delivering their care.

What should I do if I need an ambulance?

Patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.

For all other health care needs support will be available through NHS111 online (if you do not have internet access then 111 helpline is available) or at your local GP or pharmacy.

Will GP services be affected on strike days?

GP services are not impacted by ambulance or nursing strikes. However, junior doctors strikes may impact some appointments. Please continue to attend your GP appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise.

Will dentists be impacted?

The British Dental Association has advised that some of their members who work in hospitals on trainee contracts will take action on the same days as junior doctors. However the vast majority of dentists will continue to work. Please continue to attend any dental appointments unless you are contacted and told otherwise.

What is considered an emergency?

Patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.

How long will services be impacted?

The junior doctors strikes by members of the British Medical Association, BDA and HCSA will last for 72 hours. Ambulance service strikes will last for up to 26 hours.

How exactly will the army be supporting the NHS?

Military personnel will be supporting NHS staff in a variety of ways, including by driving ambulances. They will not be providing any medical support.

How will the military assist on emergency calls? Can they drive on blue lights?

They will be primarily focused on lower category emergency calls, for example falls, but they could be sent to higher priority cases too. If deployed to an emergency, the trained clinician can drive to the scene on blue lights, with the military driver driving to hospital under normal traffic laws. This means they will be required to observe the speed limit and stop at red lights. If there is need to transport a patient to hospital under emergency blue light conditions, then the crew will request back up.

Could union members still go out on strike in a trust that has no official industrial action mandated?

Action can only be taken where the employer has been notified of strike action by the union after a ballot authorising such action at that employer. It’s unlawful to take part in ‘secondary action’ (going on strike in sympathy with people who work for a different employer). Information is available here on the rights of staff around taking industrial action.

Can staff working in a derogated area still strike?

Union members in derogated areas can still take strike action and will be protected against dismissal. Derogations are an informal agreement between unions and employers, and are not legally enforceable.

However, derogations are negotiated for areas providing critical patient care. Those refusing to work in derogated services can be advised they may be committing a criminal offence if their strike action has the potential to endanger human life or cause serious bodily injury and that they should seek advice from their union.

What rights do non-union staff have who take industrial action?

Non-union members who take part in legal, official industrial action at their employing organisation have the same rights as union members not to be dismissed as a result of taking action.