LOCAL hospitals are warning people to be prepared for high demand upon health services during the Easter bank holiday weekend, followed by disruption with the period of proposed junior doctors’ strikes that will follow.

St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey and Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford are appealing to the local community to “help us, help you” by recognising that there will be pressure on services, using the right health service if unwell and being patient if they do need to come to hospital.

The BMA and HCSA have announced junior doctors’ strikes running from Tuesday morning, 11 April ,until Saturday morning, 15 April.

Dr David Fluck, medical director at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals, said: “Last month’s industrial action had significant impact on our services and we’re expecting next week to be as challenging – if not more so – as it immediately follows the Easter bank holiday weekend.

“Please utilise NHS 111 and 111 online when you need non-urgent or non-emergency care but you’re unsure of where to go, as they will be able to direct you to the most appropriate service.”

Dr Bill Jewsbury, the Guildford hospital’s medical director, said: “Previous action by junior doctors saw approximately 28k staff off nationally due to industrial action. These strikes also come after the added pressures of a bank holiday and at a time when relatively high levels of staff are on pre-booked annual leave due to school Easter holidays.

“As we have seen with previous industrial action, disruption is inevitable. However, it is vital that people do not put off seeking care and dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency and come forward for treatment using 111 online for non-life threatening care, as well as local pharmacies or General Practice.”

During strike action, both hospitals are prioritising and redirecting resources to protect critical services, which include urgent and emergency treatment, inpatient and intensive care, trauma, maternity, neonatal and urgent cancer services.

They say some outpatient appointments and elective surgeries planned for next week have been rescheduled, with patients affected being contacted directly. Both hospitals advise patients to continue to attend appointments unless they are contacted and told otherwise.

GP practices will continue to be open during the junior doctors’ strike. People should continue to attend GP and dental appointments, unless contacted and told otherwise.