Newcastle Hospitals has warned of a major impact on services ahead of the RCN nurses’ strike and asked the public to only attend A&E in a life-threatening emergency.
Many nursing staff are expected to join the strike in this latest wave of industrial action which starts at 8pm tonight through until midnight tomorrow (Monday 1 May).
The RCN has confirmed that this strike will involve nursing staff working in emergency departments, intensive care units, cancer care and other services that were previously exempt.
While national safety-critical mitigations have been agreed in some areas to ensure staff are able to provide life-and-limb services, staffing levels in wards and departments will be much lower than usual.
This means there is likely to be a significant impact on our services at Newcastle Hospitals.
For patients, services will probably feel different with longer wait and some treatments having to be rescheduled.
On the days and nights of the strike to maintain patient safety – we will prioritise emergency treatment and patients seeking urgent treatment will be seen.
Our minor injuries unit within the Emergency Department at the RVI will be closed and we ask people with minor injuries or illness not to attend the hospital but to use www.111.nhs.uk, urgent treatment centres, their GP or to speak to a pharmacist.
Deputy Medical Director Dr Michael Wright said: “Our teams have been working really hard to put plans in place to safely staff our hospitals and community services in during the nurses strike, including the Bank Holiday.
“This included identifying which patients can safely go home, combining wards and postponing much of our elective work to try and reduce bed occupancy as we headed into the weekend so we could prioritise our efforts on urgent and emergency care and looking after patients on our wards.
“Where we have had specific workforce issues and concerns, we successfully applied for safety critical mitigations which were agreed in areas including emergency and critical care, the Great North Children’s Hospital and our trust-wide transplant and retrieval service.
“Please be reassured that we are doing everything we can to ensure patients are receiving safe care – we are as prepared as possible but this is still going to be an exceptionally challenging time.
“We will always be here to help those that urgently need treatment and care, in life-threatening situations, however, with high demand for services and reduced staffing levels we are expecting services to be disrupted and the public may see lengthy delays, particularly in the Emergency Department.”
If you do need medical care and it’s not life threatening, contact NHS 111 online or your nearest pharmacy. Both services will refer you for further treatment should you need it.
Some local community pharmacies will be open over the holidays and they can help you if your medication is in stock. The bank holiday pharmacy opening times webpage will show which pharmacies are available and local NHS websites and social media channels will also have details of all opening hours over the holidays.
For children’s health advice you can download The Little Orange Book which covers a wide range of illnesses in children from common minor ailments including teething, constipation, and colds, through to more serious conditions.
If you require emergency care, you should call 999, or go to your nearest Emergency Department. You should ONLY call 999 or go to an Emergency Department if you or someone else has a life-threatening emergency, such as:
- signs of a heart attack
chest pain, pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest
- signs of a stroke
face dropping on one side, cannot hold both arms up, difficulty speaking
- sudden confusion (delirium)
cannot be sure of own name or age
- suicide attempt
by taking something or self-harming
- severe difficulty breathing
not being able to get words out, choking or gasping
on liquids or solids right now
- heavy bleeding
spraying, pouring or enough to make a puddle
- severe injuries
after a serious accident or assault
- seizure (fit)
shaking or jerking because of a fit, or unconscious (cannot be woken up)
- sudden, rapid swelling
of the lips, mouth, throat or tongue