A spokesperson for Health and Social Care (HSC) organisations said:
“Due to notified strike action by the RCN, UNISON, UNITE and NIPSA across the HSC on Wednesday 18th December, we are anticipating major disruption to a wide range of hospital, social care and community services on this date.
“There will also be action short of strike across many services during week commencing 16 December which will also cause disruption to many services next week.
“Patient and service user safety is of paramount importance and therefore, given the scale of strike action anticipated across all services, significant cancellations of appointments and service closures are necessary on 18 December.
“All Health and Social Care organisations are continuing to work diligently to safeguard urgent and time critical care and to mitigate the effects of the disruption.
“All patients and service users impacted by cancellations of appointments and service closures will be notified by their local HSC Trust over the next few days. If patients or service users have not been contacted by their Trust then they should attend their appointment/service as normal.
“Whilst disruption will not be uniform across each Trust area, it is anticipated that, in addition to an impact on hospital services, there will also be significant disruption to a wide range of social care and community services, for example, social work cover, day centres, older person’s services, and children’s services.
“All ED departments will be open and if you are seriously ill or injured, then the Emergency Department is the place to go no matter how busy the EDs may be.
“If you do not need emergency care, please choose alternative services, as EDs are expected to be under significant additional pressure. These include using the online A-Z symptom checker (click here), seeking advice from your local pharmacist, contacting your GP, or the GP Out of Hours services (if your medical condition can’t wait until your GP surgery reopens).
“Northern Ireland Ambulance Service crews will continue to respond to the highest levels of emergency calls (category 1 and 2).
“We sincerely apologise in advance for the stress and concern this action will cause to everyone impacted especially our patients and service users and ask for patience and support in assisting with alternative care arrangements as appropriate.
For further high level details on the expected impact of next week’s strike action and action short of strike go to www.hscboard.hscni.net/hsc-industrial-action-updates
For the latest and most up to date information on disruptions and cancellations, please visit the Trusts’ website (details below).
For the latest information go to:
• Belfast Health and Social Care Trust – www.belfasttrust.hscni.net
• Northern Health and Social Care Trust – www.northerntrust.hscni.net
• South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust – www.setrust.hscni.net
• Southern Health and Social Care Trust – www.southerntrust.hscni.net
• Western Health and Social Care Trust – www.westerntrust.hscni.net
• Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Trust – www.nias.hscni.net