HEALTH bosses in south Devon are warning residents to continue to attend appointments unless told otherwise ahead of the latest strike by junior doctors which starts today.
The planned five-day walkout by the junior doctors is what is believed to be the longest single period of industrial action in the history of the National Health Service.
From 7am today, BMA members working in hospitals across the Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust will be joining the national strike.
They will be among an expected 47,600 members taking part.
Pickets are expected outside Torbay Hospital.
The BMA says the strike will continue until 7am on Tuesday July 18.
Thousands of appointments and pre-planned operations are set to be disrupted as more senior doctors fill in and emergency and critical care is prioritised.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust has been making preparations before today’s industrial action.
But following this, on Thursday July 20 and Friday 21, some of the trust’s consultants will be also taking their own action.
During the two days, consultants will be providing what is being described as Christmas Day cover during their own strike so emergency care will be provided, along with a very limited amount of routine work.
This latest round of action is part of an ongoing dispute between the government and the BMA about conditions and pay.
The BMA wants a 35 per cent rise for junior doctors.
It says pay has decreased by more than a quarter since 2008 when inflation is taken into account.
A spokesman for the Torbay and South Devon NHS trust said: ‘We are working hard to minimise disruption to our services and the care we provide, and want to thank you for your understanding and patience.
‘We hope a resolution is reached very soon.
‘Please continue to keep any planned appointments unless we have contacted you to rearrange.
‘Your NHS is still here to help you, but please continue to help us by using the most appropriate service for your health condition.’
Members of the public are asked to only use the 999 emergency service if it is an urgent or life-threatening condition.
Routine health advice can be obtained by calling GPs or 111 or use a pharmacist for minor ailments.
Newton Abbot’s urgent treatment centre will be open.