RESIDENTS of Cheshire and Merseyside are being urged to use NHS 111 for all non-emergency healthcare needs during industrial action by junior doctors.

As previously announced by unions, junior doctors will take six days of industrial action from 7am today, Wednesday, to 7am on Tuesday, January 9.

This follows a period of industrial action in the build up to Christmas, with the NHS saying that, at the busiest time for the health service, significant service disruption is expected. 

Dr Fiona Lemmens, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s deputy medical director, is urging people to use NHS 111 for all non-emergency healthcare needs and to support the safe and timely discharge of loved ones who are ready to leave hospital.

She said: “The public’s support during previous periods of industrial action has been invaluable, and we are immensely grateful to them for continuing to use NHS services appropriately during these times of pressure.  

“Winter pressures are already having an impact on health and care services across Cheshire and Merseyside.

“The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to mitigate risks to patient safety and manage any disruption, including industrial action, but inevitably industrial action at this time year will cause significant service disruption. 

"You should still call 999 or go to A&E in an emergency when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

“If you need urgent medical help and you're not sure where to go, use NHS 111 online to get assessed and directed to the right place for you.

"Hospitals across Cheshire and Merseyside are working extremely hard to ensure all patients who are fit to return home can do so safely.

“If you have a loved one who is ready to be discharged from hospital, you can help by helping to get them home as soon as practically possible."

Almost half of all hospital doctors are junior doctors, and they work in almost every part of a busy hospital, including A&E.

Jobs range from diagnosing you, putting you under anesthetic, writing prescriptions and ensuring beds are available for those who need them the most.

The NHS says it will continue to deliver planned care where possible, especially for patients in greatest clinical need, and it is urging the public to attend any planned appointments unless contacted directly by the NHS to reschedule.

Local NHS services will be using their websites and social media channels to provide up-to-date information to the public about local service disruption – so please check before you travel.

The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call, go online or use the NHS App to find out where to get help for your symptoms or general health information and advice.

You can also get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine, a repeat prescription or an emergency dental appointment.

If needed, NHS 111 can also arrange a call back from a nurse, doctor or paramedic or an appointment at the most appropriate local service, including local pharmacies, urgent treatment centres, GP practices or A&E.

More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.