Junior doctors will provide emergency care only between 8am on Tuesday 12 January and 8am on Wednesday 13 January. A 48-hour strike with emergency cover only is planned for later in the month, with a full strike scheduled for 10 February.
The dispute is over pay and safeguards for unsocial working hours. Currently, junior doctors working outside 7am-7pm Monday to Fridays are paid higher rates. The government wants to increase doctors' basic pay but extend 'normal' working hours to 7am-10pm on weekdays and 7am-7pm on Saturdays. Following negotiations, very few junior doctors will now lose money* but there are still issues over limits on working hours and what happens when 'pay protection' — the government in effect topping up wages — ends in 2019.
There are around 53,000 junior doctors in England and you'll encounter them in all parts of the NHS. Someone can be classed as a 'junior doctor' for 15 years after qualifying. If your appointment or operation will be affected it's likely you already know about it and, while A&Es will be running, services in other parts of the hospital may be stretched, so you're advised to use other treatment centres if you can.
*Update: it's been pointed out to us that pay protection won't apply to new junior doctors, highlighting that the government appears to be engaging in a temporary fix to paper over cracks.