NHS strikes and support for people with cancer

Published: 17 February 2023

Last updated on 23 February 2024

Junior doctors and consultants are going on a strike across the UK, which could mean that cancer services and all health services face disruptions. We understand strikes are worrying for people with cancer. In this blog, we answer some of the questions people with cancer might have, and share information about how we’re here to support you.  

Helen Osborne Senior Digital Content Manager at Macmillan

What strike action has been announced?

The following strikes have been announced:  

  • Wales: 3-day strike action from Wednesday 21 February, ending at 07:00am on Saturday 24 February. 
  • England: 5-day strike action from 07:00am Saturday 24 February, ending at midnight on 25 February. 
  • Northern Ireland: 24 hour strike from 08:00am 6 March, ending 08:00am 7 March. 
  • Scotland: No strike action announced by junior doctors 

What do I do if I need medical help during a strike?

If there is ever a strike, and you need any urgent care during the strike period, you can use still the NHS 111 Service, either by calling 111, or using 111 online.   

If you are seriously ill or injured, you should still seek emergency help by calling 999.  

The NHS England website has information for the public on industrial action

Support for people with cancer who are worried about strikes.

We understand any potential for strikes will be really worrying for people with cancer, particularly if you’re currently going through treatment. You might find it helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. We’re here if you want to talk. 

Here are some people you can speak to and different ways to get in touch.


Talk to one of our cancer nurses


If you are concerned about changes or disruption to your treatment, or you have questions about cancer, you can talk to one of our Cancer information nurse specialists. They are experienced cancer nurses who are available 7 days a week, 8am – 8pm.

To speak to a Cancer information nurse specialist:



Talk to other people with cancer on our Online Community

The Macmillan Online Community is our cancer forum where you can talk to other people with cancer. It's free and open to everyone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a place where you can share your thoughts and feelings with people who are going through something similar. 

Here are some different forums on the Online Community that you might find helpful.


Cancer treatment forums

It is understandable that people going through cancer treatment are worried about the strikes. We have a forum about cancer treatment, as well as a cancer surgery forum, and a chemotherapy forum.


Emotional support forum

As well as helping you, sharing your feelings can help you and others in your situation. You can talk to others in the emotional support forum.


Other support with how you’re feeling

We understand that cancer can throw a lot your way, and you may be looking for other ways you can get support with how you’re feeling. We have information about other ways people with cancer can get emotional help.

This includes things like:


Free counselling

Through Bupa, Macmillan are offering up to 4 free counselling sessions for people struggling emotionally because they are living with cancer. 


Local support groups

There are local cancer self-help and support groups across the UK where people help each other with emotional and practical support.


Macmillan Buddies

Macmillan Buddies are trained volunteers who often have a cancer experience or know someone who has. They can support you with a weekly phone call.