A visual of a doctor with their arms folded holding a stethoscope.

NHS warns of significant disruption to services with junior doctors due to strike during festive period. Members of the public are urged to use NHS 111 Online for all non-emergency healthcare needs as strike action continues.

Health leaders in Greater Manchester are urging members of the public to use NHS 111 Online for all non-emergency healthcare needs as strike action in the NHS returns next week in the run up to Christmas.

This round of action will see hospital-based junior doctors and GPs in training strike over three days from 7am on Wednesday 20 December to 7am on Saturday 23 December. This will be followed by a second strike over six days from 7am on Wednesday 3 January until 7am on Tuesday 9 January.

Patients with appointments at hospitals and GP practices are asked to attend these as planned unless they are told otherwise. If you have not been contacted, please attend your appointment as planned.

Mr Dilraj Sandher, executive medical director for Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of NHS acute medical directors in Greater Manchester, said:

 “Whilst respecting colleagues’ right to strike, we regret the severe disruption industrial action will cause to the public at a time when demand for NHS services is expected to be significantly higher and many staff are on pre-arranged leave for Christmas and New Year. We are working hard as a network of health and care providers to minimise disruption wherever we possibly can.

“It’s important that the public do access care if they need it during the strikes and over the festive period, making use of local urgent eye and dental services, pharmacies, and mental health helplines. NHS 111 online can quickly advise you where to go and what to do next and can help with urgent health advice on days of strike action.

“Some people with appointments during this time may be contacted to rearrange them. Those patients will hear from hospitals or GP practices directly, so unless people hear otherwise, they should come to appointments as planned.

“Please remember, if you are unwell and need to contact your GP practice, it will be open but will very likely be busier than usual. You should also make sure to order your repeat prescriptions as soon as possible, if they are due.”

Where to get help from? Get to know where to go:

NHS 111:

 NHS Greater Manchester is urging members of the public to use NHS 111 Online for all non-emergency healthcare needs, in the first instance, unless the issue concerns a child under 5, when they should call 111. Deaf people or people with hearing loss can dial 18001 111 on a textphone or use the Relay UK app (which can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store).

NHS 111 Online can help if:

  • You need help but don’t know who to call,
  • How to find general health information and advice,
  • You are ill and need to be told what to do next, and
  • How to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine.


Contact your GP surgery for appointments about illnesses or injuries that won’t go away. Many GPs offer an out-of-hours service.


Lots of illnesses can also be managed safely at home, or with a trip to a local pharmacist. There are pharmacies open late in to the night and very early in the morning. Find your nearest one here: Find a pharmacy – NHS (www.nhs.uk).

Urgent dental care:

 The Greater Manchester Urgent Dental Care Service is available from 8am to 10pm every day including weekends for severe dental pain and infection. People can call 0333 332 3800 to be assessed by a healthcare professional, who can provide self-care advice or book a face-to-face appointment, if needed.

Urgent eye care:

Free urgent eyecare is available across all 10 areas of Greater Manchester. If you have a sudden and urgent problem with your eyes, you can contact a local practice to get an appointment: NHS Greater Manchester Community Urgent Eye Care Service (CUES) – Primary Eyecare Services.

Mental health:

 For free urgent mental health support, people can contact one of these 24/7 helplines – they’re available to anyone of any age:

  • Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Trafford, and Wigan 0800 953 0285 (freephone).
  • Bury, Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, and Tameside 0800 014 9995 (freephone).

If there’s an immediate risk of danger to life, you should ring 999.

Local NHS services will be using their websites and social media channels to provide up to date information to the public about local service disruption – so people are urged to check before travelling.

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