Ambulance strikes: NWAS urges people to only call 999 in ‘life-threatening emergencies’ amid more strike action
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When is the strike action?
Ambulance service staff from GMB and Unison trade unions will go on strike again on Wednesday, January 11.
Unison and Unite members will also take further action on Monday, January 23.
Why are ambulance crews striking?
The strikes are due to a continuing dispute between trade unions and the government over pay.
Rachel Harrison, GMB’s national secretary, said: “There was some engagement on pay – but not a concrete offer that could help resolve this dispute and make significant progress on the recruitment and retention crisis.”
What have residents been advised to do during strike days?
While ambulances will still be available, the public were urged to ensure services were still available for people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
Typical emergencies include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or allergic reactions and serious head injuries.
If hospital treatment is required, patients were asked to consider taking alternative transport such as a taxi or getting a lift from family or friends.
The public were also advised to visit 111.nhs.uk or contact their GP or local pharmacy for help with non-urgent health concerns.
The strike action on January 11 will also see more staff striking in more areas, including 999 and 111 call handling staff and fewer staff in the Patient Transport Service (PTS).
Patients who have PTS bookings on that day will only now be available for renal, oncology and palliative care appointments.
Providers will be in touch to inform residents if their appointment has been cancelled or to advise if they need to seek alternative transport.
What has the North West Ambulance Service said?
Ged Blezard, Director of Operations, said, “Firstly, I want to thank the public for their support on the previous day of strike action before Christmas. You heeded our messages, and we were grateful to see 999 call volumes drop significantly.
“As before, we are maximising our own resources, using private providers and military support where appropriate and working closely with our trade unions to provide cover for the most serious emergencies. We are also working with our healthcare partners to maintain patient safety during these periods of industrial action.
“But, to get to the people who need us this time, we will require you to do the same again. However, I want to make it clear that if you need us, please continue to ring 999, and we will get there as quickly as we can.
“Ambulance resources will be prioritising life-threatening injuries and illness. Unfortunately, other patients will wait and may be advised to seek alternative transport if they still require hospital treatment.
“We will also be particularly more stretched in our 999 and 111 call centres, which will likely result in longer call response times.
“Therefore, if you have already called 999 to request an ambulance, please only call back if your condition has worsened or to cancel the ambulance. Repeatedly calling 999 can block phone lines for other emergencies.
“And if you need urgent care – first use the symptom checker at NHS 111 online, which will direct you to the most appropriate support. Again, you should call on friends or relatives for transport if necessary.”