North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to experience further disruption due to industrial action

North West ambulance leaders are urging the public to use the health service wisely as another round of strikes impacts NWAS and the NHS next week.

For the first time, combined strike action will see ambulance staff and nurses take industrial action on the same day, stretching resources in the ambulance service and hospitals.

Specifically, members of Unite, GMB and the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) will strike on Monday, 6 February. The RCN strike will continue on Tuesday 7, with colleagues from Unison striking on Friday, 10 February.

Ambulances, while still available, will be limited on Monday and Friday. At the same time, fewer staff will be working in 999 and 111 call centres and for the Patient Transport Service (PTS).

Ged Blezard, Director of Operations at North West Ambulance Service, said, “It’s vital we keep the ambulances we do have available for those who really need us.

“Reasons to continue to call 999 include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, allergic reactions and serious head injuries.

“Unfortunately, other patients requiring hospital treatment will likely be asked to take alternative transport, and delays may occur.

“For non-urgent concerns, please seek help from NHS 111 online, or contact your GP and pharmacist, who will be available during next week’s strikes.”

“Also, please do not repeatedly call 999 asking for updates on where your ambulance is. Only call us back if your condition has worsened or to cancel the ambulance. We need to keep lines free for other emergencies.

“I am pleased to say that the public has listened to our previous messages, and call volumes have fallen on days of strike action. I want to say thank you, but I am also keen for this to continue.”

As before, NWAS is maximising its own resources, using private providers and military support where appropriate and working closely with trade unions to provide cover for the most serious emergencies. NWAS is also working with its healthcare partners to maintain patient safety during these periods of industrial action.

Patients using the Patient Transport Service (PTS) on 6 and 10 February may also be affected. Transport will only remain available for renal, oncology, and palliative care appointments. Providers will be in touch to inform you if your appointment is being cancelled or to advise if you need to seek alternative transport.

While NWAS has said that it hoped for a swift resolution to the dispute, ultimately, this is a matter between the trade unions and the government, and NWAS must respect its colleague’s rights to take industrial action.

NHS 111 Online can tell you:

  • Where to get help for your symptoms, if you’re not sure what to do
  • How to find general health information and advice
  • Where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
  • How to get a repeat prescription

More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E  is available via the national NHS website.

Image: George Morina

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