Devon NHS prepares for consultant strikes ahead of busy bank holiday weekend

Published: 23 August 2023

The NHS in Devon is preparing for the next round of consultant industrial action ahead of the busy bank holiday weekend.

Visitors and local people are being encouraged to make best use of health services over the next five days to help the NHS cope with the challenging period ahead.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that consultant doctors will be taking strike action for 48 hours from 7am on Thursday 24 August until 7am on Saturday 26 August. During the two days of industrial action, the BMA has advised that consultants will provide ‘Christmas Day’ cover, meaning they will continue to provide an emergency care only level of service.

Dr Nigel Acheson, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Devon, said: “The NHS will be recovering from two days of consultant strikes going into the bank holiday weekend, so we are likely to face a prolonged period of disruption on the frontline. There is likely to be significant impact upon local services. This will mean services will feel different for patients – this could include longer waits.

“We’re asking visitors and residents to do their bit to help our frontline staff by choosing the right treatment options, it will help us to maintain emergency care for those who genuinely need it.”

NHS England data shows that during the previous consultant industrial action in July 2023, in Devon 895 appointments had to be rescheduled.

The message from the NHS in Devon is that urgent and emergency care will be there for you, but please choose the right service for your needs. Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, the advice is to:

  • Make sure you have ordered and collected any repeat medicines, especially if you are travelling.
  • Continue to call 999 in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.
  • Go to NHS 111 online if you need medical help or advice, or you are unsure about whether you should go to hospital; you can also phone 111.
  • Please check local hospital trust websites for information on Minor Injury Units and Urgent Treatment Centres.
  • Anyone with a hospital appointment should continue to attend as planned, unless they’ve been contacted to rearrange.
  • If you, or someone you know, experiences a mental health crisis you can access support from a number of places:
    • 24/7 urgent mental health helpline 0808 196 8708
    • Mental Health Matters helpline (24/7) 0800 470 0317
    • Mental Health Crisis Line Plymouth is open 24/7 0800 923 9323
    • Samaritans 1116 123
    • Text SHOUT to 85258 for 24/7 text support
  • Play your part by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after yourselves and loved ones, checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours. A first step is making sure your medicine cabinet is well-stocked.
  • Make use of community pharmacies, which can advise on minor illnesses and provide medications. Details of which pharmacies are open over the bank holiday weekend can be found via NHS England’s interactive map.
  • Visitors to Devon are also reminded that their first port of call for GP care is their home practice, which will be able to provide online, phone and video consultations as well as arranging for prescriptions to be sent to any pharmacy you choose.