NHS in ‘precarious position’ as 25,000 ambulance workers walk out

NHS ambulance strikes discussed by GMB union official

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Ambulance chiefs have advised people to call emergency services only in life-threatening situations as workers walk out en masse today. Approximately 25,000 paramedics, call handlers, technicians and drivers are among those on strike today as they seek better pay and conditions, but NHS bosses fear the action will have wide-ranging consequences. Services across the UK are braced for disruption, with officials issuing advice as wait times increase and some Britons face having to make their own way to hospital.

People should only call an ambulance if they are suffering from conditions like heart attacks or sepsis, emergency chiefs have advised.

Ambulance chiefs have advised people to only call emergency services in life-threatening situations as workers walk out en masse today.

Approximately 25,000 paramedics, call handlers, technicians and drivers are among those withholding their labour today as they seek better pay and conditions, but NHS bosses fear the action will have wide-ranging consequences.

Services across the UK are braced for disruption, with officials issuing advice as wait times increase and some Britons face having to make their own way to hospital.

The GMB and Unison unions have spearheaded the latest round of strikes, with 10,000 and 15,000 workers participating, respectively.

Their staggered walkouts will see them take six or 12-hour shifts across England and Wales.

GMB’s contribution will impact services across southwest England, the southeast coast, northwest, south central, northeast, east and West Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales.

And Unison’s participation will see additional disruption in London, Yorkshire, the northeast and west, and southwest England.

Altogether, the numbers will exceed those from the previous pre-Christmas strikes in 2022.

Representatives from South Central Ambulance Service warned the strikes would primarily affect its non-emergency services, such as patient transport.

London ambulance service (LAS) chief Daniel Elkeles has warned some people living in the capital may not receive an ambulance at all as staff pack picket lines.

Yorkshire Ambulance services expect the walkouts to disrupt most services, including front-line emergency ambulances and 999 call handling.

Their ambulances will respond during the strike, but only during cases where there exists an “immediate risk to life”.

Officials have issued advice for Britons in need of health attention while the strikes continue.

NHS England said patients should only call 999 in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

In most cases, ambulance services said they would only respond to health emergencies outlined in category one.

These include conditions like heart attacks, sepsis and severe allergic reactions.

Some services also cover category-two conditions like suspected strokes.

But most will not respond to health issues contained in categories two to four, many of which are not immediately life-threatening.

In these cases, people will need to contact the non-emergency 111 line or visit a pharmacy or GP to address any health issues.

Strikes may also impact non-urgent services, with a lack of call handlers leaving fewer people to answer 111 calls.

Miriam Deakin, the director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said this would place the service in an “even more precarious position”.

But workers have outlined dire situations that have forced them to strike, with many turning to food banks as their salaries struggle to compete with inflation.

Government officials offered crews a four percent pay rise that workers have argued amounts to a real-terms pay cut given the 11 percent inflation rate.

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