Further disruption as busy festive period gives way to longest strike to date

Health leaders in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are starting 2024 with a renewed appeal for people to support their local NHS during the longest period of industrial action to date.

Junior doctors at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and Salisbury District Hospital will stage a six-day walkout, beginning at 7am on Wednesday 3 January.

The strike will conclude at 7am on Tuesday 9 January, meaning the first weekend of the new year, which is always an exceptionally busy time for local health services, will be even more of a challenge.

People can help to relieve the pressure felt by frontline NHS teams by choosing the healthcare option that is most appropriate for their condition, which for many could be self-care, and only using urgent and emergency care services for genuine, life-threatening emergencies.

Dr Amanda Webb, Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “Our local NHS remains in a very challenging position, with many colleagues feeling exhausted after pulling out all the
stops to keep services running during the last strike, and then going straight into the busy Christmas and New Year period.

“This latest strike, which at six days is the longest period of industrial action to date, means more disruption is on the way, and that the overall impact will be felt long after the picket line has ended.

“We desperately need people to get behind us, as they did throughout December, and show their support through the appropriate use of our local health and care services.

“Pharmacies and GP practices are now open as normal, and NHS 111 continues to provide quick, practical and easy-to-understand healthcare information either online or over the telephone.”

People can access www.111.nhs.uk from their laptop, smartphone or tablet and, by answering a few short questions, can get tailored help and advice and, where necessary, directions to other local care services.

Similar help can also be obtained from the hundreds of community pharmacies that are open across the region.

Most pharmacies have a private area where in which people can talk to a pharmacist in confidence for help with a minor illness or injury.

Further details on the services available at community pharmacies, along with information on what other help is available in the local region, can be found online at www.bswtogether.org.uk/yourhealth.