Hospitals are facing widescale disruption after junior doctors voted to go on strike in a contract row with the Government.
The first walk out is scheduled for December 1, when they will provide emergency care only for 24 hours from 8am. This will be followed by full walkouts from 8am to 5pm on December 8 and 16.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it had contingency plans in place to minimise the impact on patients but warned some people may face delays in getting their treatment.
Director of Operations at the Trust Pat Oliver said: “We have been working with union representatives to ensure we have safe staffing levels to provide essential services.
“Our overriding objective during this period is to ensure we continue to provide high quality and safe services to patients.
“All urgent and emergency care will continue to be provided. However, we ask patients to consider the seriousness of their condition prior to attending the emergency department.
“People are reminded to consider other healthcare options where appropriate such as visiting their pharmacist, calling NHS 111 or using the online NHS Choices.”
Patients who have appointments within the hospital on Tuesday December 1 are asked to attend as normal unless they have been contacted by the Trust with new details.
The BMA said it was still keen to avoid strike action and is looking for talks with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS Employers. Changes to the Junior Doctors’ Contract include scrapping safeguards stopping doctors working when they are too tired, and reclassifying which hours qualify for premium pay.
Yesterday Mr Hunt said the strike decision was “regrettable”.
He said: “We want to ensure patients have the same quality of care across the week, and have put forward a generous offer that increases basic pay by 11 per cent and reduces doctors’ hours. We hope that junior doctors will consider the impact of this action - especially the withdrawal of emergency care - will have on patients and reconsider.”
Dr David Wrigley, BMA representative for Lancashire, said: “This is an unprecedented response, but junior doctors in Lancashire are doing this with a heavy heart.
“They have been forced into this by a Government threatening to impose something BMA members believe will lead to stressed and tired doctors. This isn’t about pay, it’s about safety. The contract will also be very unfair on doctors who work part time, who take maternity leave, and those doing research.”