North West ambulance leaders are once again reminding the public of another round of industrial action affecting the service.
On Monday, 20 February, GMB members will strike for 24 hours, resulting in a reduced number of ambulances on the road and fewer call handlers responding to 999 calls. Furthermore, the Patient Transport Service’s ambulance dispatchers and drivers will also participate in the strike.
To guarantee that resources are available for patients who genuinely require them, NWAS has requested that the public only dial 999 in the event of life-threatening emergencies.
To be clear, ambulances will still be available – but they will be prioritised for those life and limb emergencies. Other patients will likely be asked to make their own way to hospital or advised where else to seek help.
NWAS will be supported by the military and by private and volunteer ambulance services and to ensure the safety of our patients, senior clinicians will be based in all our control rooms to oversee incoming 999 calls and make decisions on responses based on clinical need.
Patients using the Patient Transport Service (PTS) on 20 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.
Director of Operations at NWAS, Ged Blezard, said, “This is the ninth day we have faced some form of strike action in the service. So far, we have coped reasonably well. However, I understand there are only so many times that the public will listen to our messages. Therefore it’s important to stress that one of the reasons we are able to get to people who need us on strike days is that we receive fewer calls, so it’s vital that the public continue to behave as they are.
“Please only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency. For non-urgent concerns, please seek help from NHS 111 online, or contact your GP and pharmacist.
“Typical reasons to call 999 include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, allergic reactions and serious head injuries
“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.
“We are hoping for a resolution to the dispute, but ultimately, this is a matter for the government and trade unions to settle.”
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