"SERIOUS challenges" for NHS services in Worcestershire are expected during junior doctor strikes and the Christmas bank holidays. 

The NHS across Worcestershire will be significantly impacted throughout the Christmas bank holidays along with strike action due to take place later this week on December 20 to 23 and January 3 to 9.

It is expected to result in serious challenges for all NHS services in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Dr Will Taylor, NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s chief medical officer,  said: “We are working closely with our partners to make sure patients can access the care they need, in a safe environment, during industrial action and over the Christmas bank holidays.”

Healthcare leaders across the county are asking people to think carefully about the services they use during the period and to be proactive to avoid preventable illness to ensure emergency services are there for those who need them.

Dr Christine Blanshard, chief medical officer, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “With strikes taking place over the lead-up to Christmas and in the New Year, we are expecting services to be under increased pressure.

"Our Emergency Department team will be working exceptionally hard prioritising patients with life or limb threatening injury and illness to provide lifesaving care for those patients in the greatest need.

"Patients whose condition is less serious may be asked to seek treatment elsewhere or face an extremely long wait.

“If your condition is less serious you can call 111 or visit 111 online, which is a free NHS Service.

"They can quickly direct you to the right health service, including out-of-hours GP appointments.

"Pharmacists can also help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries.

"Local people can play their part to help reduce pressures on services by only using 999 and A&E for genuine life-threatening emergencies and using NHS 111 online or by phone for other care needs or if you’re unsure about whether you should go to hospital.” 

During strike action the NHS will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, and trauma, and ensure it prioritises patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery.

Appointments will only be cancelled where it is necessary and will be rescheduled immediately, where possible.

Anyone who has an appointment should attend unless they are contacted.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111 for any urgent but not life-threatening medical needs.

Trained advisers can direct people to the best possible care for their needs, including arranging an out-of-hours GP appointment or an appointment time to attend A&E or a Minor Injury Unit.