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Junior doctors' industrial action

Advice for patients

Junior doctors are now working normally throughout the NHS. In the event of further industrial action this page will be updated with the latest advice.

If another strike does take place, the NHS will work hard to ensure that as few patients as possible are affected. You can help the NHS cope by being prepared, choosing the right service for your needs, and attending A&E only if it is essential.

Be prepared

If you have a long-term health condition or you look after someone else – including, for example, elderly people or young children – it's important that you know what to do if you need the NHS during any industrial action that takes place.

Apart from your GP or hospital, there’s a range of other primary care services that can offer help, such as your pharmacist, dentist or optician. There are also specific services provided by midwives, health visitors and specialist nurses – check you know how to contact anyone you might need to talk to.

If you need regular medication for yourself or someone you care for, be sure to get the prescription from your GP and collect the medicine from your pharmacist before any action starts.

If you are pregnant, make sure you know how to contact your midwifery team if you need help or advice. If you are near your due date, check arrangements with your maternity unit

Planned treatment and outpatient appointments

If you have a planned operation, procedure or outpatient appointment on a day when industrial action is taking place, your hospital will contact you if the appointment needs to be rearranged. If a strike is about to start and you have not been contacted by the hospital, you should check their website for additional advice. If you are still unsure what to do, contact the hospital direct.

Patients already in hospital during industrial action will continue to receive normal care. Inpatients will be told if any changes to their planned treatment are needed because of industrial action.


Your GP practice will be open and working as normal during any industrial action by junior doctors. GPs, however, may experience greater demand than normal over strike periods, so contact them early if you need advice or an appointment.


If you need emergency care, Accident and Emergency departments will be open to deal with serious and life-threatening conditions. As is always the case, only those adults and children with genuine emergency needs should go to A&E. Emergencies include:

  • major injuries, such as broken limbs or severe head injury
  • loss of consciousness
  • an acute confused state
  • fits
  • severe chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that can't be stopped
  • severe allergic reactions
  • severe burns or scalds

Alternatives to A&E

If you become ill with a non-urgent condition and need advice, please visit Health A-Z for information or go to your local pharmacist. For more urgent conditions that you believe you can’t take care of yourself, you should contact your GP as usual, or call 111.

For minor injuries or illness (cuts, sprains, rashes and so forth) you could visit a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre if the problem can't wait for a GP appointment. Bear in mind that these services may be busy during any industrial action.

Page last reviewed: 03/05/2016

Next review due: 03/05/2017

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