THE NHS in Devon is giving advice to local people as the county’s hospitals and NHS services prepare for the first strike today by consultants in a decade.

Consultant doctors and hospital-based dentists will be taking industrial action from 8am today, Thursday, until 8am on Saturday, July 22.

The strike follows industrial action by junior doctors from July 13 to 18, and precedes a strike by radiographers from July 25 to 27.

An NHS spokesperson said: 'In contrast to strike action among other staff groups, no other clinicians can provide cover for consultants, so any planned care delivered by junior doctors or other healthcare professionals that requires even remote consultant supervision will need to be rescheduled.

'This means a significant amount of planned care involving junior doctors will be affected.

'Consultants will only provide staffing levels to cover emergency care, meaning the NHS will experience two ‘Christmas Day service’ days in a row.

'The advice for local people and holiday makers who need care has not changed – people should use 999 in life-threatening emergencies and NHS 111 online for other health concerns. GP services and pharmacies are also available for patients and can be accessed in the normal way.

'If you haven’t been contacted or informed that your planned appointment has been postponed, please attend as normal.'

Dr Nigel Acheson, chief medical officer, NHS Devon, said: 'We know there will be severe disruption to planned care in our hospitals during the strike, with many appointments needing to be rearranged. Services will also still be recovering from the effects of the junior doctor strikes this week.

'If people follow our advice on how to access services, it will help us maintain emergency care for those who genuinely need it.'

The NHS is prioritising resources to protect emergency and urgent care, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma.

Advice for patients:

Hospital appointments

The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.

Urgent or emergency care

People should go to 111 online for medical help and advice but call 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

During strike days, it is likely 999 call handlers will be very busy and response times at NHS 111 call centres are likely to be longer.

For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, you can visit the NHS UK website.

Please check Trust websites for information on Minor Injury Units and Urgent Care Centres.

If you, or someone you know, experiences a mental health crisis you can access support from a number of places:

  • 24/7 urgent mental health helpline 0808 196 8708
  • Mental Health Matters helpline (24/7) 0800 470 0317
  • Mental Health Crisis Line Plymouth is open 24/7 0800 923 9323
  • Samaritans 1116 123
  • Text SHOUT to 85258 for 24/7 text support

GP and dental appointments

GP practices will continue to be open as normal during the strikes. Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise.

Keep yourself safe and well

The NHS is also asking the public to play their part by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after themselves, loved ones and checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours. Make sure you have ordered and collected any repeat medicines, especially if you are travelling.


Visitors to Devon are also reminded that their first port of call for GP care is their home practice, which will be able to provide online, phone and video consultations as well as arranging for prescriptions to be sent to any pharmacy you choose.