Home births ‘suspended’ as paramedics and 999 call handlers walkout

Everything you need to know about the ambulance strikes

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Home births have been cancelled for some patients on Wednesday as hospitals are concerned that ambulances will not respond to some emergency calls. In some parts of London expectant mothers have been told that home births have been “suspended” due to concerns that ambulances will not arrive to take them to hospital.

Eight of England’s ambulance trusts had declared critical incidents ahead of the walkouts.

The strike will affect all of Wales and all the ambulance trusts in England with the exception of the Eastern region and the Isle of Wight.

There will be no walkouts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In the East Midlands Ambulance area covering Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire patients calling for an ambulance may not receive a response unless the incident is considered life threatening.

According to the trust, strike action by the GMB union could affect 50 percent of staff meaning that fewer ambulances will be available.

However crews will respond to category one calls such as cardiac arrests as well as the “most serious” category two calls such as chest pains and road traffic accidents where patients are trapped.

According to the North East Ambulance Trust, which serves County Durham, Northumberland and Teesside ambulances will be priotised only where there is a risk to life.

Essential patient transfers to hospital will continue as GMB and Unison staff will be exempt from strike action in the case of a category one call.

The London Ambulance Service has asked people not to call 999 unless a person is seriously ill, injured or their life is at risk during the walkout.

King’s College Hospital has suspended its home birth service until Thursday morning while Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust is also recommending women give birth in birthing centres rather than at home.

The North West Ambulance Service, which covers Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria and parts of Derbyshire has yet to confirm which calls will be responded to.

GMB workers in the southern region covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire will respond to all category one and two calls.

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At the South East Coast Ambulance Service covering Kent, Surrey, West Sussex and East Sussex staff can choose to respond to some emergency calls in a deal brokered by GMB.

South Western Ambulance Service covering Bath, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset has advised patients to only call 999 if their is a risk to life.

Staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service covering Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire will respond to category one calls and very serious category two calls such as heart attacks.

At Yorkshire Ambulance Service covering East Riding of Yorkshire, part of North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire a deal with GMB and Unison has agreed that ambulances will be sent when there is a “immediate risk to life”.

In Wales it is understood that life threatening calls and some emergency calls such as heart attacks and strokes will be responded to by striking GMB members.

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