A number of junior doctors are expected to stage a fifth period of industrial action affecting the period from 8am on Tuesday, April 26, to 8am on Thursday, April 28.

This proposed industrial action is significantly different from earlier periods of action and will result in the full withdrawal of full labour, including emergency care.

Emergency cover will be withdrawn from 8am to 5pm on both days.

In order to ensure a clinically safe service to patients during this 48 hour period some scheduled operations and outpatient appointments at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will need to be postponed.

“While we plan to maintain as many services as possible, we will need to postpone some appointments and procedures,” said the Trust’s Director of Operations, Mrs Pat Oliver.

“All affected patients will be contacted and their appointments rescheduled. Those who do not hear from us should assume their appointment or procedure is going ahead as planned.”

All members of the public are urged to think carefully about the type of health care they need and consider appropriate alternatives to A&E.

Mrs Oliver added: “Our experience during recent junior doctors’ strikes has shown attendance numbers going up in A&E after 5pm.

“We have had a spike in numbers coming to the emergency department at 6pm on strike days, causing increased pressure on an already stretched unit. 

“It is imperative that patients consider where they will receive the most appropriate health care.

“Patients are seen in a clinical need order and this can mean some people have to wait longer than others. To offer safe, effective care we must prioritise the most clinically urgent cases.

“We don’t want to stop people who really need to use A&E from attending, but we remind patients that it is for emergencies such as breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, severe chest pain, serious accidents and severe bleeding.

“The public are asked to consider appropriate alternatives to A&E such as Whitegate Drive, Same Day Health Centre in Fleetwood, local pharmacies, GP surgeries and dentists.

“The NHS nationally has been under immense strain and the staff at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals have done a great job to keep the service running in such difficult conditions,” Mrs Oliver added.

“Along with A&E units across the country, Blackpool Victoria Hospital is treating a record number of patients at the moment which is putting extra pressures on our emergency department.

“Increased numbers of patients leads to an increase in admissions and to the number of patients needing diagnostic tests. We are endeavouring to meet the four hour waiting time where safely possible.

“Senior managers and clinicians in the Trust are working closely with trade union representatives to ensure the quality and safety of care that we provide to patients is not compromised when junior doctors take part in the planned BMA industrial action.”