Industrial action update for January 2024


Industrial action update for January 2024

The British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have announced junior doctors and dental trainees will take strike action from 7am on Wednesday 3 January until 7am on Tuesday 9 January.

This period of industrial action will affect a number of NHS trusts, including Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and is part of an ongoing dispute between the government and trades unions about terms and conditions.

Patient safety is our top priority, and we are committed to maintaining patient care as much as possible and providing the most essential services on these days. We will only reschedule appointments and procedures where necessary and will rebook as soon as possible.

What will feel different?

Teams across the trust are working together to ensure that we can continue to provide urgent and emergency care for all patients, and to keep as many of our services running as possible. We are expecting all hospital services to be very busy over the festive season and the following few weeks around the strike periods.

It is likely that some of our patients will be impacted by the strike action, and for non-urgent cases, this could include longer waiting times in the Emergency Department, deferred treatment / clinics and in some areas, we may need to consolidate services (so where there are two services in an area, only one may be open).

You may also see a difference in the colleagues who are working on our wards, as teams work together from across a broad range of service areas to provide essential services.

If we need to change any planned appointments we will try to give as much notice as possible, but on occasion, we may need to make some last-minute changes to planned procedures or appointments.

Please be patient and kind to all our colleagues during this time.

Advice for patients

Appointments and services

If you have an appointment, please attend as planned. Please don’t call to check if your appointment is going ahead. If your appointment is affected by industrial action, we will contact you directly.

Maternity services will be running as usual. For details visit our Maternity pages (

What can you do to help?

Discharge from hospital:

This festive season, we’re asking families and friends to work with our colleagues to support patients to get home from hospital when they are ready to be discharged.

If you have questions you’d like to ask about how our discharge process, we’re running a special question and answer session on our Instagram on Tuesday 19 December in the afternoon, where we’re inviting people to ask us questions about how they can help their loved ones to return home from hospital this Christmas.

Visiting patients

We continue to welcome family members and loved ones to visit patients at our hospitals, please speak to your ward to arrange visits as usual.

Which service should I access?

Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases - when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

We would like to encourage anyone with a non-urgent care need to first seek help from NHS 111, before attending our hospital sites. For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, you can also visit the NHS UK website.

  • If you have a life-threatening emergency, our ED is open 24 hours a day
  • If you have a minor illness or minor injury - pharmacies and MIUs are open
  • If you have an urgent medical problem that isn’t a serious or life-threatening emergency and aren’t sure what to do, contact 111 first by phone or online at– they will provide immediate medical advice and direct you to the best care for your needs
  • GP practices will continue to be open during the strike periods. Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise
  • Self-care: Visit NHS 111 online for self-care advice for things like grazed knees, coughs and colds
  • Pharmacy: Visit your local pharmacy for headaches, upset stomachs, aches and pains
  • Minor injury unit: Attend your local minor injuries unit for urgent not life-threatening conditions and injuries such as sprains, fractures and burns. For the latest information on opening hours and services, visit the MIU pages
  • Further information on NHS services, opening hours and waiting times can also be found by downloading the NHS Quicker App.

You can find more information about healthcare services across Somerset on the NHS Somerset website.

Please use services wisely during industrial action and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most. This includes using 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.


Useful links:

Visit the NHS England website for more information about the strikes, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions.