The junior NHS doctor strike kicked off at 8am this morning, and will run for 24 hours. If you've missed the news, the action is a result of disputes with the government over new contracts, pay, and working conditions.
Regardless of your feelings about it all, there's certain things you'll need to know today, should you have an accident or whatever.
What If I Have An Emergency?
Doctors are not going to stop working in emergency cases. All the A&E departments in the UK will be open and working as normal. What will be effected, is a number of routine treatments, tests, non emergency surgeries, and minor appointments. So if you get hit by a bus, you should get the usual treatment, but your bunions will have to wait for another day.
Will There Be Any Further Strikes?
Yes. Unless talks with the government are resolved, there's going to be two more strikes. There'll be a 48-hour strike by junior doctors from 8am on Tuesday January 26th. There's going to be a full withdrawal of labour from 8am to 5pm on Wednesday February 10th.
What Do I Do If I Need Non-Urgent Treatment?
The hospitals are prioritising cancer care and emergencies, so if you have something that can basically wait, you're advised to visit pharmacies, call your GP, or call NHS 111 just for today (the phone number is, unsurprisingly, '111').
Is Everyone Supporting The Junior Doctors On This Strike?
According to a recent IPSOS Mori poll, 66% of people said that they support the industrial action. It seems that people trust doctors more than politicians, but that won't surprise many. One of the reasons this is happening, is that health secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to cut the number of hours that junior doctors can claim extra pay (it is obviously more complicated than that).
Do I Need To Do Anything?
Just keep an eye on anyone who is vulnerable or elderly. Anne Rainsberry, the NHS England director overseeing all this, says: "We have tried and tested plans to deal with a range of disruptions including industrial action. As ever, the safety and care of patients is our top priority and the NHS has robust plans in place to ensure those who need emergency treatment will continue to receive it."
“We have been working with hospitals and other NHS providers across the country to ensure we can continue to protect the safety of our patients and provide the urgent services they need. We will monitor the situation across the country to ensure these plans are in place, and are ready to respond to any significant increases in pressure in any region over the course of this dispute."
Have Junior Doctors ever gone on strike before?
Yes they have, all the way back in 1975. The BBC have an interesting piece on it, if you want to find out about that. Basically, these kinds of strike are very rare indeed, so many feel that things must be bad for it to happen now.