The BMA announced this morning that a motion to strike following the ballot of Junior Doctors has passed meaning the three strike dates in December will go ahead. This post will outline a few steps you can take, as a nurse, to support the doctors strike yet minimise the impact of the Doctors' Strike on your patients.
Patient safety is of paramount importance and it is crucial we keep patients safe during this period, this post is simply a guide you will know what is best for your patients and you should use your clinical judgement and escalate within your organisation if you have serious concerns about patient safety.
1. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PATIENTS
Ensure your patients are aware of the industrial action taking place, explain any impact this may have on them and their treatment. Explain that there is still consultant cover and there are doctors available should they be needed in an emergency but routine and non-urgent treatment will be delayed.
2. KNOW YOUR TRUST OR ORGANISATIONS PLAN
NHS Trusts and organisations around the country will be putting in place measures to minimise the impact on patients and ensure safety, make sure you read this guidance early, ask any questions and speak to your line manager if you have any concerns about patient safety before the industrial action.
3. REVIEW DRUGS CARDS OR PRESCRIPTIONS
A delay in critical drugs can be life threatening so it's important in the days before the strike ensure any prescriptions or drug cards are written or rewritten if they are due to expire, medications are reviewed and arrangements have been made for any medication that is for the administration by 'Doctors Only'.
You should also ensure that patients have adequate pain relief, anti-sickness and IV fluids prescribed if appropriate.
4. ENSURE THERE IS A MEDICAL PLAN IN PLACE
Ensure that you have an established plan in place for your patients treatment, know what should happen if your patient deteriorates and ensure any test or investigations that require a Doctor are rearranged promptly.
You should clarify any criteria for escalation, ensure DNRs are written and any plans are clearly documented.
5. DISCHARGE EARLY
Discharge safely or do not discharge at all!
If your patient is due to be discharged during the period of action ensure any TTOs and discharge letters are written early, outpatients appointments are made and the patient has been spoken to by a member of the medical team.
If possible discharge the day before or after the action but ensure patient flow within your organisation.
6. INCREASE STAFFING
It is likely there will be an increased demand on emergency and secondary care services during the period of action, if possible ensure your ward or area is well staffed.
7. ENSURE PATIENT SAFETY DURING THE STRIKE
YOU know your area of work better than us, YOU know the steps you need to take in order to ensure YOUR patients are safe.
If you have any tips you want to share to help us support the doctors while keeping patients safe, post them in the comments section.