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NHS bosses issue urgent plea as 'extra pressure' expected to cause major problems for patients

NHS bosses are urging the public to seek help online in an effort to ease 'extra pressure' on healthcare services as both junior doctors and consultants walk out together for the first time.

Leaders from the 111 service said they expected a 'significant impact' and 'pressure' on the NHS and asked the public to make use of 111's website instead of calling or visiting hospitals.

Consultants across the region have walked out on Tuesday (September 19) as part of an ongoing dispute over pay. Junior doctors are set to join the strike on Wednesday, with action expected to last until September 21 and 23 respectively.

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NHS bosses said using the 111 online service would 'likely' be quicker than calling 111 for most patients. However, they reminded the public North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) employees will not be on strike, so they should still call 999 for 'life-threatening situations'.

They added a 'significant' amount of planned care would be affected, but patients who haven’t been contacted or informed that their scheduled appointment has been postponed are urged to attend as normal.

Sally Rose, Head of the 111 service for NWAS, said: “Using 111 online is very similar to the phone service, and you’ll answer the same questions. Depending on what you need, you may get a call back from a doctor or nurse, arrange an arrival slot at A&E, or get guidance on self-care.

“Tomorrow is the first time we’ve seen junior doctors join consultants on the picket line as part of the BMA strikes, and we are concerned that will raise the pressure felt by NHS 111. Therefore, it’s