Longest strike in the history of the NHS – bosses ask residents to help

04 Jan 2024
Industrial action

NHS leaders have issued an urgent plea for residents of south east London to use A&E services for real emergencies only, during the longest strike in the history of the NHS.

The British Medical Association announced six days of industrial action by junior doctors running until 7am on Tuesday 9 January. This is the longest strike in the history of the NHS and it is happening during the time of year when NHS services are traditionally under most pressure. This latest wave of industrial action comes at a time when emergency departments at south east London hospitals were already extremely busy due to a number of factors, including a surge in flu and other seasonal illnesses following festive get togethers.

Junior doctors make up around 50 per cent of doctors meaning all of our six acute hospitals in south east London have been severely impacted by this strike.

Toby Garrood, Medical Director for the NHS South East London Integrated Care Board, said: “We are disappointed that talks between the government and the BMA have broken down. We are seeing a significant cumulative impact after more than 12 months of industrial action. These strikes have come at the worst possible time of year. Staff in our hospitals in south east London are working flat out to keep patients safe and ensure that services are there for those that need them urgently. They continue to prioritise emergency care and people should continue to call 999 for life-threatening emergencies.

“I urge people to use urgent and emergency services appropriately. For anything that isn’t life threatening please go to NHS 111 online. Local pharmacies can also provide a wide range of health advice and help, and GP services are running normally.”

If care is needed over this period:

  • Life-threatening emergency or serious injury: call 999 or go to your nearest Emergency Department (A&E)
  • Medical attention and advice: contact your GP
  • If you cannot contact your GP: visit NHS 111 online
  • For expert advice and medicines: visit your local pharmacy
  • Mental health emergency: visit NHS 111 online

South East London hospitals websites are:

South East London mental health services websites are: