PATIENTS are being urged to use health services wisely over the Easter holidays and beyond.

The Easter weekend will be immediately followed by four days of industrial action by junior doctors from 7am on Tuesday, April 11 to 7am on Saturday, April 15 and is expected to disrupt some local health services.

St Helens Star:

Dr Peter Williams, medical director at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals, says it is important that members of the public are aware of the pressures the NHS will face during this time and do all they can to help services run as smoothly as possible by choosing the right health service at the right time.

He said: “As we head into the bank holiday followed by four days of industrial action planned by junior doctors we are expecting our hospitals to be extremely busy.

“Our priority during the four days of industrial action will be to provide emergency services, alongside care and ongoing support for our inpatients, and we are asking people to continue to use services wisely and take some simple steps to help ensure care is available to those who need it most.

St Helens Star:

“If you need health advice on a day of action, but it is not an emergency, please use NHS 111 Online and a clinician will call you back if needed. Please continue to only use 999 or A&E in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

“In the run up to Easter it is important that you don’t run out of medication. Find out which of your local pharmacies are open and get your prescribed medicines now and check you have enough over the counter medications to last you too.

“During the industrial action period we will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity and trauma, and ensure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery.

"We will only cancel appointments and procedures where it is necessary and will reschedule immediately, where possible.

“The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled. If you have not been contacted, please attend your appointment as planned.

“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.

"If your relative or friend is due to be discharged from hospital and needs to be collected, please do whatever you can to help bring them home safely as early as possible.

"This will help our teams to free-up a hospital bed for someone waiting to be admitted.’ Local NHS organisations will provide regular updates and advice on their social media channels for members of the public.