The NHS in the North East and North Cumbria is cautioning individuals to judiciously utilise health services during six-days of industrial action organised by junior doctors.

The strike will commence today (January 3) at 7am and will extend until 7am on January 9.

This will be the longest period of industrial action experienced so far, taking place shortly after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "Our focus is very much on the safe delivery of urgent and emergency care services and teams are working hard to reduce delays and minimise disruption for patients needing care in other areas as well.

"But there will inevitably be some disruption and longer waiting times. "

He made mention of the increased appearance of seasonal illnesses such as flu, Covid-19, and norovirus adding further strain.

He said: "We would like to reassure people that if they do require urgent care, the NHS is here to help, and we urge you to come forward.

"Urgent and emergency services will be open across the region, but it is vital that people must use these services appropriately so that our emergency teams can focus on treating those who are seriously unwell."

Dr Sean Fenwick, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust stressed the strain on services during the first week of January.

Dr Fenwick said: “The first week of January is always the busiest week of the year for us.

“It comes when we are already experiencing winter pressures, see more patients who are unwell with winter illnesses and then on top of that, people begin to seek help as their days return to normal after the Christmas break."

While there have been some rearrangements regarding appointments and planned procedures, individuals are urged to still come in for their appointments unless they have been instructed otherwise.

For everyday ailments and injuries, the public is advised to use the online symptom checker at

For urgent mental health support, individuals should refer to their local Crisis Team.