A 48-hour strike by junior doctors later this week has prompted calls by health authorities in Northamptonshire for people to help reduce pressure on NHS services.
The industrial action will begin at 8am on Wednesday, running through to 8am on Friday in the long-running dispute with the Government.
A spokesman for NHS Nene and NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) said junior doctors will provide cover for emergencies only.
“The industrial action will mean disruption to services at the county’s hospitals - Kettering General Hospital and Northampton General Hospital,” the spokesman said.
Community and mental health provider Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are not expecting any disruption, he explained.
“The CCGs, which commission local health services, are working with local health and social care providers to ensure there are contingency plans in place during this time that protect the safety, welfare and service provided to patients,” he said.
“The priority is to ensure that patients who come into our hospitals as an emergency or for urgent treatment are seen and treated as quickly as possible.
“With a reduction in resources, there will inevitably be an impact on planned services during this period, and while the majority of planned appointments will go ahead, some non-urgent planned appointments and procedures will have to be rescheduled. Patients will be contacted by the hospital, by letter or telephone, should their appointment or procedure be affected.
“If you have not received a letter or phone call, patients are advised to attend their scheduled appointment, he added.
With NHS services already under pressures, he said, members of the public were being urged to think about how they can help to relieve some of that pressure.
Dr Darin Seiger, GP chair of NHS Nene CCG, said: “There are simple things that people in Northamptonshire can do to help. For example it is important to think carefully about whether they can treat their minor illness at home, with help from their local pharmacist or by calling NHS 111 for advice. NHS 111 provides advice 24 hours, seven days a week for people who have a condition that cannot wait for their GP or if they are unsure what to do.
Dr Joanne Watt, clinical chair for NHS Corby CCG, added: “For vulnerable groups – such as the elderly, children and people with long-term conditions – steps should be taken to ensure they, or those caring for them, know what to do if they need medical care. If they have regular medication – please make sure they collect any prescriptions from the GP and have been to the pharmacist to collect it, and have it to hand.
“Most importantly, A&E is for serious and life-threatening injuries and conditions only”.