Nearly 14,000 appointments at a hospital group have been postponed during this year’s strikes – and with another round of action next week, that figure is set to rise even further.

Less than two weeks ago, consultants and junior doctors came together for the first time ever to strike. That meant more than 2,300 inpatient and outpatient appointments at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier hospitals had to be rescheduled – adding to the thousands from earlier in the year.

From Monday, some consultants and junior doctors will once again join forces in a walkout that will span three days and will severely impact NHS services – with radiographers at St George’s Hospital also striking on the Tuesday.

During strike days, Christmas Day cover will be provided – meaning all emergency care will continue, but appointments for elective surgery and non-emergency work will be rescheduled.

Members of the public are urged to use NHS services wisely – but to continue to come forward for care when it is an emergency or when they have an appointment.

Dr Richard Jennings, Group Chief Medical Officer for St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group, said: “We must prioritise our sickest and most seriously ill patients, and unfortunately that does mean we have had to reschedule a number of appointments during the strikes.

“We will only reschedule appointments where absolutely necessary, but are very sorry to everyone who has been affected. Please do continue to attend your appointment as usual if you haven’t been contacted by us.”

Members of the public are being urged to use NHS services wisely to ensure care continues to be available for those most in need – and to also remember that going to an emergency department when it’s less urgent doesn’t mean they will be seen more quickly.

Dr Jennings added: “We have another very challenging week ahead, and while you should always come forward for care when it’s life-threatening, NHS 111 online should be your first port of call when it’s less urgent.”

NHS 111 online directs people to the most suitable place for their healthcare need. GP surgeries and pharmacies are also largely unaffected by strikes and can help with illnesses such as tonsillitis, coughs, colds and earaches.

Injuries like sprains and strains can be treated at home – or a pharmacist can advise on the best treatment.

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