The NHS in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire is gearing up for a busy end to August as this weekend is set to be preceded by industrial action, before being immediately followed by a bank holiday.
Consultants at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, as well as the Royal United Hospital in Bath, and Salisbury District Hospital will be on strike from 7am on Thursday 24 August until 7am on Saturday 26 August.
During this time, hospitals will be providing a level of service similar to Christmas Day, which means routine appointments and operations are likely to be postponed and waiting times for urgent care longer than usual.
Less than 48 hours after the strike ends, the NHS will step up to meet the challenges posed by the late summer bank holiday, which will see most pharmacies and GP practices in the region close.
Support from the public before, during and after the weekend – in the form of collecting prescriptions early, attending appointments unless told otherwise and only using emergency care services in genuine, life-threatening situations – will help to limit disruption and ensure those most in need are prioritised for care.
Dr Amanda Webb, Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “Bank holidays are always a busy period for the NHS, and the next few days will be no exception, with the usual pressures of the long weekend intensified by strike action from consultants.
“Over the last year or so, local communities have shown unwavering support for the NHS during what has been a very testing time for all, and we ask people to once again get behind us and do the simple things that add up to make a really big difference.”
Patients will be contacted directly if their hospital appointment or procedure needs to be postponed because of the strike by consultants, who are traditionally the most senior doctors in any given care setting,
Those who are due to visit hospital and have not been contacted should attend as normal, and avoid calling ahead to check the status of their appointment.
Throughout the strike, as well as over the bank holiday weekend, people are advised to make use of the digital healthcare options provided by the NHS, such as 111 online and the NHS website.
Both can provide instant health and care advice, information on appropriate treatment options and, where necessary, directions to nearby in-person services.
A select number of pharmacies will remain open on Monday 28 August, albeit with shorter opening times, for people in need of emergency prescriptions, medication advice and care for minor illness and injury.
Details of which pharmacies are open and when can be found online using the Find a Pharmacy function at www.nhs.uk.
Further information about health and care services in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire can be found at www.bswtogether.org.uk/yourhealth.
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