Hundreds of appointment no-shows at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier hospitals prompt renewed pleas for patients to attend unless contacted
1,200 people didn’t attend their hospital appointments during the last junior doctors strikes – and as a fresh round of industrial action gets under way, those who haven’t been contacted about their planned procedures or consultations being rescheduled are urged to come forward for care.
This week, hundreds of junior doctors working across the three hospitals will go on strike for the second time in one month – leading to many appointments being rescheduled.
But those who do have a planned hospital appointment and have not been contacted about any changes should attend as normal – and people should also continue to come forward for urgent care if it’s life-threatening.
If it’s less urgent medical help that’s needed, however, the public should use NHS 111 online first, which can assess people’s needs and direct to the right place to go.
Dr Richard Jennings, Group Chief Medical Officer for St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group, said: “We have had to reschedule some appointments to ensure we prioritise care for those who most need it – but you will be contacted if this is the case. That means if you have an appointment and you haven’t heard from us you should still come in.
“Please let us know if you can no longer make your appointment so we can use our frontline doctors’ and nurses’ time more effectively to treat other patients and work to reduce our waiting lists.”
The four-day strikes are expected to have a huge impact on hospital services – and come off the back of the Easter weekend, which is traditionally busy and brings challenges of its own.
Dr Jennings added: “I’d like to thank the public for using our services wisely over the bank holiday weekend – helping us to prioritise care for those who need it most. Please continue to help us this week, too, by using NHS 111 as your first port of call.”
Members of the public are asked to remember that going to an emergency department when it’s not life-threatening doesn’t mean they will be seen more quickly. People may be redirected to a more appropriate service such as a pharmacy or GP if they attend when it’s not an emergency.
GP surgeries and pharmacies are largely unaffected by these strikes and can help with illnesses such as tonsillitis, coughs, colds and earaches. Injuries like sprains and strains can be treated at home – and pharmacists can advise about the best treatment.