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Surrey’s NHS prepares for the impact of further industrial action

Industrial action graphic displaying the dates of February's Junior Doctor strike from 24 to 29 February 2024

As Surrey’s NHS prepares for the impact of further industrial action, health leaders join forces to urge people to use services responsibly

As junior doctors in Surrey get ready to take part in further strike action, Surrey’s NHS has joined forces to warn of further disruption to services.

This comes as junior doctors from the British Medical Association (BMA) strike for five consecutive days from 7am on Saturday 24th February to 11:59 on Wednesday 28th February, also joined by junior doctors from the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) who will be striking from 06:59 on 24th February to 06:59 on 29th February.

With the NHS still experiencing the high demand for care, common in the winter period, exacerbated by record demand for services, increased A&E attendances and admissions, higher levels of flu, Covid-19 and norovirus, all compounded by reduced staffing levels due to the industrial action – Surrey’s NHS are united in their plea as they urge Surrey residents to use services responsibly.

Health leaders from across the Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership are encouraging people to still come forward if they need urgent medical help – but they are also warning of widespread disruption to routine services and some planned operations and procedures as the local NHS prioritises urgent and critical care for those who need it.

Dr Charlotte Canniff, Joint Chief Medical Officer for Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership and Surrey GP explains:

This will be the tenth period of industrial action by junior doctors so we have well-rehearsed plans in place to manage periods of disruption, working together across health and care organisations – but services are already extremely busy so we expect the coming days to be challenging as work together to keep essential services running with fewer staff.

During the last period of strike action, at its peak, on 3rd January 2024 we saw over 500 junior doctors from Surrey Heartlands taking part in planned action.

With junior doctors making up around half of all doctors, a reduction of this scale has a significant impact on the services our frontline teams can continue to provide – so we do expect significant disruption to routine appointments and planned procedures as we prioritise urgent, emergency, trauma, maternity and critical care for those who need us most.

During the last period of industrial action by junior doctors, over 2,500 outpatient appointments and planned procedures had to be rescheduled across our main hospitals so we do see a significant impact each time

If people need to access health advice and treatment during this period of planned industrial action we are encouraging them to still come forward – and to use services appropriately:

  • People should continue to use pharmacies, GP practices, walk-in centres, the NHS App and NHS 111 online or by phone 24/7 for urgent health advice
  • People should only use 999 and A&E for serious or life-threatening conditions or medical emergencies (when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk).
  • If people’s appointments or procedures have been affected by industrial action the local NHS will contact people directly to reschedule them as soon as possible. If people haven’t been contacted, they should attend appointments as usual.

Shashi Irukulla, Deputy Medical Director at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added:

We fully support our junior doctors across Surrey Heartlands, whether they choose to participate in industrial action or not – but our hospitals are already extremely busy this time of year, where our staff are already working incredibly hard.  

Over the coming days, we are again asking members of the public for their support in using services responsibly and appropriately, and to make full use of local walk-in centres and urgent treatment centres to help us keep our Emergency Departments and 999 for those who need them most.

We are also asking people to be patient, particularly if services are busier and waits are longer than usual or if outpatient or planned procedures need to be rearranged, as our frontline teams prioritise critical services and work hard to make sure people get the care they need.


Lee Davies, nurse and Associate Director for Un-Scheduled Care at First Community Health and Care added:

As NHS services continue through this period of industrial action, we’re urging members of the public to think carefully about the services they need to use before calling 999 or going to the local A&E department. 

There are Minor Injury Units, Urgent Treatment Centres and Walk-in Centres across Surrey that may be more appropriate, depending on the condition.

Full details of local services can be found on the Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership website - or people can use NHS 111 online ( or call 111 24/7 if they are not sure which service they need.


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