THE Isle of Wight NHS Trust is facing a difficult start to 2024, with junior doctors set to strike from today (Wednesday).

Trade union BMA is calling for NHS junior doctors in England to take strike action for six days; the longest period of strike action in the history of the NHS.

Junior doctors make up around half of all doctors working in hospitals.

They are taking industrial action from 7am on Wednesday, January 3, until 7am on Tuesday,  January 9.

In an open message to Islanders, Hampshire and Isle of Wight chief medical and nursing officers said: “Winter is always a busy time for the NHS.

“But with 2023 seeing health and social care under significant pressure throughout, your local NHS is asking residents to do what they can to protect services and look after themselves. 

“Although our emergency departments are busy, patients should not put off seeking urgent or emergency care.

“However, patients should only call 999 or attend the emergency department if it is a medical or mental health emergency.

“People who attend an emergency department when it is not a medical or mental health emergency will be redirected to another, more appropriate setting, to allow us to provide emergency care for those who need it.

“We are urging you to use NHS 111 online for urgent medical advice, or to call 111 if you’re unable to access the online service.

“You can also visit your local pharmacy, urgent treatment centre or your GP practice if you need advice or help that isn’t life-threatening.

“If you have an appointment but haven’t otherwise heard from us, please continue to attend as planned. If we need to reschedule appointments, we will contact you. 

“We are also asking the public to help us by getting friends and relatives home when they are well enough to leave hospital.

“By helping transport friends and family home, you help us free up space within our hospitals more quickly.

“Over the past few weeks, some of our hospitals and services have already had to take serious measures to cope with the number of patients they are seeing come forward and protect levels of patient safety.

“This has at times meant that patients have had to wait longer than we would like or be redirected to different services.

"We would like to thank our communities for their patience and our staff for their dedication and hard work throughout.”