NHS leaders in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are urging people to think carefully about which health service they should use ahead of a junior doctors’ strike later this week, when the NHS is expected to be under immense pressure.

Junior doctors are due to go on strike from 7am on Friday 11 August until 7am on Tuesday 15 August.

Dr Nil Sanganee, chief medical officer for NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board, said: “We plan carefully to ensure we can continuously provide safe care for patients that need it during the industrial action, and emergency services will be maintained – but please help us by choosing the right NHS service for your needs.

“For example, during the summer holidays children are spending more time outdoors. If they have a minor accident, with a bump or scrape, as long as it’s not a life-threatening emergency, you can use the NHS111 service. They can give advice on what you need to do and can even make you an appointment at a local urgent treatment centre if necessary. That means no long wait for your child in the hospital emergency department and it frees up services for people who are seriously ill.

“If you’re away from home on holiday in the UK and you’re unlucky enough to be unwell, you can still contact your usual GP practice. They will be able to provide a phone or video consultation and, if you need medication, they can arrange for prescriptions to be sent to any pharmacy you choose. You can also use NHS 111 online for advice about getting the right care near to where you are.

“Also, please plan ahead where you can. Before you go on holiday, if you take regular medication, make sure you order your prescription in good time, so you don’t run out when you’re away. It’s also a good idea to pack a basic first aid kit so that you can easily take care of minor issues.

“All of these actions will help the NHS during what is expected to be a difficult month. This week’s junior doctors’ strike will be followed by a consultants’ strike from August 24 to 26, plus we have the August bank holiday weekend, which is always busy for NHS services.”

Come forward for medical care if you need it
Even though the NHS is expected to be busier than normal, people are advised to continue coming forward for care, including calling 999 if it’s serious or a life-threatening emergency.

They should attend any booked appointments, unless the NHS has already told them that they need to reschedule. GP practices will be open as normal, so people should continue to use them for anything urgent and that they can’t treat themselves. Dentists in the community will also be unaffected by the strike.

If it’s urgent
For urgent health needs people are asked to use NHS 111 as the first port of call by visiting www.111.nhs.uk. They can also phone NHS 111 if they do not have online access or for children under 5. The 111 service is available 24/7 and can advise where to get help for specific symptoms, direct people to the best local service to use, and book an appointment or arrival time to keep waiting times to a minimum.

For urgent mental health support, people can call the Mental Health Central Access Point on 0808 800 3302. There is also a range of Neighbourhood Mental Health Cafes available across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Full details are available on the Leicestershire Partnership Trust website: https://www.leicspart.nhs.uk/service/neighbourhood-mh-cafes/ .

For minor injuries or illnesses
People can look after many minor illnesses and injuries themselves at home, but if they need any extra support they can visit www.111.nhs.uk, use the NHS App or go to a local pharmacy.

Pharmacists are qualified health professionals and are the right people to see for advice or over-the-counter medicines. They are trained in dealing with many illnesses, they can check symptoms and recommend the best treatment. There is a local pharmacy near to where most people live, so they offer fast, convenient support – without an appointment. Most also have a private consultation room.

People in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland can find out which service to use, depending on their needs, at: www.leicesterleicestershireandrutland.icb.nhs.uk/right-now/ so that they
can get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
Andrew Furlong, medical director/deputy chief executive officer for University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “The whole NHS is likely to be pressured during the industrial action. We are well prepared, and focussed on providing a safe urgent and emergency care service to all who need it.

“The public can help us by calling 999 in a life-threatening emergency only. You can click or call 111 for non-life threatening care, helping you get to the right place for your needs first time. Local pharmacies can help with less serious ailments.

“Anyone with a hospital appointment should continue to attend as planned unless they have been contacted to rearrange.”

Sanjay Rao, a consultant psychiatrist for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “Crisis mental health services remain open. Our Mental Health Central Access Point is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on freephone 0808 800 3302. As well as assessments and early interventions where needed, the service aims to reduce the pressure on other services,
particularly emergency services, by offering an alternative to NHS111 and the emergency department. Anyone needing mental health support for themselves or others can call this service. If there is an immediate threat to someone’s life, please phone 999.”