Emergency departments at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier’s hospitals were hit by their busiest Monday this year – with more than 1,000 people coming through their doors over the course of the day.

This high demand – the equivalent of roughly one person every 90 seconds – came during an already-challenging period for the hospital group, as junior doctors started their first day of 72-hour strike action.

For Epsom and St Helier, it was only the second time in 2023 the Trust surpassed 500 attendances in their emergency departments on a Monday, while the 475 attendances at St George’s was the second busiest Monday this year.

Industrial action has a significant impact on hospital services – and members of the public are being urged to take steps to ensure care continues to be available for those people who need it the most.

Dr Richard Jennings, Group Chief Medical Officer for St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group, said: “Our hospitals are busier than ever, and Monday was a challenging day for everyone. We’ve worked very hard to prepare for these strikes, but it’s inevitable that services across our hospitals are affected.

“We are always here for those who need care – and if it’s an emergency or life-threatening, or you have an appointment, you must continue to come forward. But to everyone else, I make this plea: use our services wisely, and help us to ensure we can provide care to those who are most in need.”

For people who need care where it’s not an emergency, NHS 111 online should be the first port of call. NHS 111 can quickly advise where to go and what to do next.

Local pharmacies may also be able to help, and can provide advice on minor health concerns from skin rashes to earaches and flu. Many pharmacies stay open late and no appointment is needed. Pharmacies can also help with winter illnesses like colds and coughs, which continue to be prevalent during this colder weather.

As with hospital appointments, people who have GP appointments should attend these as planned, unless contacted and told otherwise. You can contact your GP surgery for appointments about illnesses or injuries that won’t go away.

More information on the strikes is available on the NHS website. You should always call 999 or go to an emergency department if it’s life-threatening – find out more on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E.

Notes to editors

  • Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA), the trade unions for doctors in the UK, are taking part in a nationwide 72-hour strike between 7am on Monday and 7am on Thursday.
  • This industrial action affects services – including postponing of some appointments, operations and procedures – at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, and Epsom and St Helier hospitals.
  • Anyone affected by postponements will be contacted, and people should continue to attend appointments as planned, unless they are told otherwise.
  • St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group will share any important updates on its websites, stgeorges.nhs.uk and www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk