JUNIOR doctors at Barnsley Hospital start 72 hours of industrial action at 7am tomorrow – with more action planned in the New Year.

The latest strike ends on Saturday at 7am and coincides with what is traditionally one of the NHS’s busiest periods, with emergency services often under huge strain.

There is also a planned strike due to begin on January 3 for six days – the longest walk-out in the history of the NHS.

The action is expected to have significant impact as the NHS focuses on ensuring patients needing urgent and emergency care can be treated safely.

It means some routine appointments and operations will be postponed. Hospitals are contacting people directly should their appointment need to be delayed; therefore, people should continue to attend any appointments as planned if they are not contacted.

The NHS advises that nobody should put off seeking urgent or emergency care during the strikes, with key services continuing to operate. People should continue to call 999 in an emergency

A spokesperson said: "During strike action we will prioritise resources to protect the emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma units. We will only reschedule appointments and procedures where it is necessary, and will rebook immediately where possible. Unfortunately, these strikes will have a significant impact upon planned and routine care.

"Anyone who has an appointment which is affected by the industrial action will be contacted. We are asking people to attend any of their health and care appointments as usual if they haven’t been contacted.

"We thank you for your patience and understanding, and would like to reassure you that, as always, patient safety remains our absolute priority throughout the Trust.

We expect there will be significant delays in the Emergency Department as patients will be seen according to their immediate needs.

"Please continue to use or contact NHS111 first for general guidance, advice and urgent care needs. This is a free service available 24 hours a day."