Patients are being urged to only use A&E if their condition is serious or life threatening as junior doctors plan two days of strike action which will include the withdrawal of emergency care.
If the proposed action goes ahead, junior doctors will strike from 8am until 5pm on Tuesday April 26 and Wednesday April 27.
In contrast to previous strikes, the action on these two days will see junior doctors withdrawing from all types of care, including A&E departments and other emergency services.
It will mean that Basildon University Hospital’s A&E department – which has been full to bursting in recent weeks – will be under extra pressure on these two days.
It is unclear how many of the hospital’s 236 junior doctors will take strike action but plans are ongoing to cope with the impact.
The hospital has cancelled some inpatient elective procedures and some outpatient clinics to free up other clinicians to support its response to the strike.
Dr Celia Skinner, the hospital’s medical director, said: “The message has not changed about when people should use our A&E department – whatever day of the year it is for serious and life-threatening injuries or conditions only.
“But we know that some patients use A&E inappropriately when they would be much better served by visiting or calling their GP, pharmacist or minor injuries unit like the one at Orsett Hospital.
“The strike on April 26 and 27 is different to any of the previous days of action in that junior doctors will not be fulfilling their emergency care duties. Our attention will have to be focussed on the patients who are the sickest and most at risk. We are asking that patients with minor ailments like a sprain, a cut or a sore throat should seek treatment elsewhere. If you are in any doubt then please call NHS 111.”
If there are any changes to an appointment for you as a patient, the hospital will contact you via telephone. If you do not hear from the hospital, please assume your appointment remains
For more guidance on whether A&E is right for you and for updates on A&E waiting times, visit the Basildon and Trust University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust website here, call NHS 11 or go to the NHS Choices website which has a section dedicated to the strike www.nhs.uk/strike