PEOPLE in Devon are being asked to help the county’s NHS during the current strike action by continuing to choose the right service for their needs.

The British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA)  junior doctors strike action began at 7am today, Saturday, February 24 and runs until 11.59pm on Wednesday, February 28.

The HCSA industrial action will continue until 7am on Thursday, February 29.

The county’s main hospitals - in Plymouth, Exeter, Torbay and Barnstaple – are likely to be under severe pressure during the next week.  

NHS Devon this week declared a critical incident status for health in Devon as a precautionary action so that the system could mobilise and take the necessary steps in response to the bomb situation in Plymouth, as well as for managing ongoing operational pressures in its busy hospitals.

Dr Nigel Acheson, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Devon, said: “It is critical that those needing emergency or life-saving care contact 999 or attend an Emergency Department but we ask everyone else to choose the best service for their medical need.

“If your condition isn’t life-threatening, consider 111, your GP or local pharmacy first.

“We are counting on the understanding of local people at this difficult time and we encourage everyone to follow the advice we are giving today.”

Local people can do their bit to help NHS services by:

• Continue to call 999 in emergency and life-threatening cases - when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk

• Go to NHS 111 online if you need medical help or advice, or you are unsure about whether you should go to hospital; you can also phone 111

• Please check local hospital trust websites for information on Minor Injury Units and Urgent Treatment Centres. Further information can be found here: Health Pressures - One Devon .

• Play your part by taking simple steps to look after yourselves and loved ones, checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours. A first step is making sure your medicine cabinet is well-stocked. 

• Please pick up loved ones who are ready to be discharged from hospital.

• Make use of community pharmacies, which can advise on minor illnesses and provide medications. Details about local pharmacies be found via the interactive map here: Find a pharmacy - NHS (

• If you, or someone you know, experiences a mental health crisis you can access support from a number of places:

o 24/7 urgent mental health helpline 0808 196 8708

o Mental Health Matters helpline (24/7) 0800 470 0317

o Mental Health Crisis Line Plymouth is open 24/7 0800 923 9323

o Samaritans 1116 123

o Text SHOUT to 85258 for 24/7 text support.

For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A and E, you can visit the NHS UK website.