As the NHS faces another period of prolonged industrial action by Junior Doctors, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) is urging the public to only use East Surrey emergency department in a genuine emergency – such as if you are seriously ill or experiencing a life-threatening emergency – including a stroke or heart attack.

Junior doctors, who are members of The British Medical Association (BMA), are expected to take part in industrial action from 7am on Wednesday 2 January until 7am on Tuesday 7 January 2024.

The latest action comes just two days after the New Year bank holiday when services across the Trust, and the wider NHS, are already exceptionally busy.

During the last period of industrial action high numbers of patients still attended East Surrey Hospital’s emergency department and with significant disruption expected over the coming week, the Trust is urging the local community to choose services wisely if their medical need is not life-threatening. That includes considering if an urgent treatment centre or minor injury unit can help. Anyone who does attend the Emergency Department with an issue that can be treated by another local service, may be redirected.

Those who do not have a life-threatening illness or injury are asked to use NHS 111 online as a first port of call, and also make use of other local NHS healthcare services such as:

This includes using NHS 111, walk-in-centres, GP practices, pharmacies, Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre and the Minor Injury Units at Caterham Dene, Horsham and East Grinstead. Patients are likely to be seen much sooner and this will help ensure emergency care is available to patients who need it most.

The public should only use 999 or East Surrey emergency department in a genuine emergency.

Hospital staff will be working round the clock to ensure the safe care of all patients who need urgent and emergency treatment, as well as working hard to minimise disruption to other services including cancer and urgent elective care.

Despite the pressure on services, people should not put off seeking vital emergency care on strike days, and should continue to attend any planned appointments unless they have been contacted to rearrange.

Angela Stevenson, Chief Executive, said:

“January is already the busiest month of the year for the NHS, and while we are working round the clock to minimise disruption and care for all those who need us throughout this latest period of industrial action - our services will be exceptionally busy this week.

“It’s vital that those who do not have a life-threatening illness or injury, do not attend the emergency department and instead use other NHS services such as 111 online, your local pharmacy or GP, as well as nearby treatment centres at Crawley, Caterham Dene, Horsham and East Grinstead, which will be running as normal and will be able to see you much sooner. This will help ensure care is available to patients who need it most.

“If you do need urgent or emergency care, such as for a heart attack or stroke, please come forward or call 999.”

Patients who need medical advice or non-life-threatening care should:

  • Use 111 online as their first port of call as this will be able to identify the most appropriate local service, patients should only call 111 if they do not have access to the internet.
  • Patients should also make use of their GP and local pharmacies for non-urgent medical issues such as headaches, an upset stomach, and other common illnesses safely and effectively at home. To find pharmacies open in our area, along with opening times, please click here.
  • Visit the local Urgent Treatment Centres (UTC) and Minor Injury Units (MIU). These will be running as normal during industrial action:
    • Caterham MIU (if aged 18 and over) – Located at Caterham Dene Hospital, Church Road, Caterham, CR3 5RA. Open 9am – 8pm, seven days a week. This is a convenient alternative to A&E and is run by qualified emergency nurse practitioners. The MIU provides treatment for cuts and grazes, sprains and strains, broken bones (fractures), bites and stings, infected wounds, eye problems such as infections or scratches, sports injuries, minor burns and scalds. X-ray facilities available on site.
    • Crawley UTC – Located at Crawley Hospital, West Green Drive, Crawley, RH11 7DH. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. UTCs treat most injuries that are urgent but not life threatening. For example, sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings.
    • Horsham MIULocated at Horsham Hospital, Hurst Road, Horsham, RH12 2DR. Open 9am – 5pm from Monday – Friday, excluding bank holidays. They are a minor injuries unit staffed by emergency nurse practitioners and other nursing and ancillary staff. They provide assessment and treatment of a wide range of minor injuries in both adults and children. Following assessment patients may be treated and discharged or, if appropriate, referred onto other health care providers. X-ray facilities available on site.
    • East Grinstead MIU – Located at Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, RH19 3DZ. Open 8am – 8pm, seven days a week. The unit is run by emergency practitioners who are well-trained and experienced specialist nurses and paramedics who are able to assess, diagnose and treat a wide range of minor injuries and ailments for both adults and children over one year old. X-ray is available for Minor Injuries Unit patients if required Monday - Friday 8.30am -5pm, Saturday 9am - 1pm and Sunday/bank holidays 10am - 1pm for adults and children over four years. On call cover is also available for emergency referrals outside of these hours.