Ambulance service pleas for 999 calls only in ‘life-threatening emergencies’ as strike action looms
North West Ambulance Service has urged the public to call 999 only in life-threatening situations as strike action looms.
The GMB union, Unite and Unison have confirmed their members will take part in strike action on Wednesday, December 21.
GMB members will also strike on December 28 in a dispute over pay.
Ambulances will still be available to respond, but they will be prioritised for life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
Ged Blezard, Director of Operations, said, “We have tried and tested plans to manage any disruption, including industrial action, however, it’s important to understand there will be an impact on the public.
“We want you to continue to ring 999 in a situation where there is an immediate threat to life.
“However, we are advising patients, that they should consider other forms of transport if they still need to go to a hospital.”
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.
“We are maximising our own resources, using private provider and military support where appropriate and working closely with our Trade Unions to provide cover for the most serious emergencies,” Mr Blezard added.
“We are also working with our healthcare partners to maintain patient safety during these periods of industrial action.”
Rishi Sunak pleaded with unions to call off NHS strike action with a warning about the impact the walkouts will have on people’s health.
The Prime Minister insisted the Government was “happy to sit down and talk” with unions but ministers have so far refused to discuss pay, one of the major factors behind the disputes.
“I’m really disappointed to see that the unions are calling these strikes, particularly at Christmas, particularly when it has such an impact on people’s day-to-day lives with the disruption it causes and the impact on their health,” Mr Sunak said.
“I would urge them to keep considering whether these strikes are really necessary and do everything they can to alleviate the impact it’s going to have on people.