For the first time ever, both consultants and junior doctors will be taking strike action on the same day - tomorrow ( Wednesday, September 20) - and "hospitals will not be able to run as normal, with services working under immense pressure".

Consultant doctors are currently taking 48 hours of continuous industrial action, which started at 7am this morning (Tuesday) and ends at 7am on Thursday.

Meanwhile, junior doctors will be taking 72 hours of continuous industrial action from 7am on Wednesday until 7am on Saturday.

"For the first time ever both consultants and junior doctors will be taking strike action on the same day (September 20), and this will have a greater impact on services which will be focused on protecting services for life-threatening emergencies," warned the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB).


People ae reminded to only attend A&E if they need treatment for a very serious illness or injury.

Dr Jane Halpin, the ICB's chief executive, said: "This strike action with both consultant doctors and junior doctors presents many challenges to patients, our hospitals, and some of our GP practices too.  With large numbers of doctors expected to be absent, hospitals will not be able to run as normal and services will be working under immense pressure.

"Even with the careful planning that is taking place, both routine and emergency care are likely to be significantly affected.

"In order to prioritise life-saving emergency treatment for people who need it, hospitals will postpone some non-urgent operations, treatments and routine appointments. Where this is the case, patients will be contacted directly. This is really unfortunate for those whose treatment is delayed, but with the majority of doctors not working, remaining staff must cover the essential care patients need."


She continued: "A&E is always for serious injuries and life-threatening emergencies only, so in a genuine medical emergency always call 999.

"If you come to A&E with a minor condition or illness during the strike, you are likely to face a very long wait.

"If you call 999 for an ambulance when you don’t need one, you could endanger the life of another person in desperate need of emergency care.

"NHS 111 is there 24 hours a day if you or a family member are unwell and need urgent medical help or advice on where to go. Please use 111 online or call 111 if you cannot manage symptoms yourself at home.   

"I would like to thank everyone for their understanding and support at this challenging time."

Top tips:

  • If you need urgent health help, use NHS 111 online or call 111. Your symptoms will be assessed, and you will be provided with healthcare advice or an appointment to see a doctor or nurse if this is needed. NHS 111 can also send an ambulance and can book an appointment for you in some services like urgent treatment centres.
  • If you are in a mental health crisis, call NHS 111 and get straight through to mental health help by selecting option 2.
  • GP surgeries are less directly affected by junior doctor industrial action.  However, we expect them to be busier than usual as a result, so only call if it is really essential, and consider filling out an online consultation on your practice website if you can wait.
  • Feeling a bit under the weather? The NHS website has lots of advice to help you to look after yourself when you have minor symptoms. 
  • Pharmacies are experts in medicines and treatment for minor conditions. You can find a list of pharmacies open out of hours by visiting and using the ‘Find a Pharmacy’ tool.