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Ambulance Strikes: Everything you need to know

1 year ago

Ambulance Strikes: Everything you need to know
Credit: Belinda Jiao/PA

Ambulance workers, paramedics, technicians, call handlers and other NHS staff will walk out in England and Wales in the coming days in action that will affect non-life threatening calls.

It comes as the UK faces weeks of strikes in the weeks across different industries, causing widespread disruption.

Here we look at everything you need to know ahead of the ambulance strikes:

When are the strikes?

The ambulance strikes will take place on Wednesday December 21 and Wednesday December 28.

Ambulance Strikes
Credit: PA

Who is striking?

Members of three unions, GMB, Unison and Unite, which represent around 25,000 ambulance workers, are walking out on a coordinated strike on Wednesday December 21.

The action will involve ambulance workers, paramedics, call handlers and emergency care assistants in 10 out of 11 NHS trusts in England and Wales.

GMB union members will then stage a further strike at nine trusts on December 28.

Why are they striking?

The unions voted to strike in a dispute over the Government’s 4% pay award.

It comes as a real terms pay cut with the UK’s current inflation standing at 11%.

Which areas will be affected?

The date and timings of the walkouts will vary between each union and ambulance service, as will the number of staff striking in each area.

More than 10,000 GMB members will walk out across nine trusts in England and Wales on both December 21 and December 28.

These include:

– South West Ambulance Service

– South East Coast Ambulance Service

– North West Ambulance Service

– South Central Ambulance Service

– North East Ambulance Service

– East Midlands Ambulance Service

– West Midlands Ambulance Service

– Welsh Ambulance Service

– Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Meanwhile, Unison members, including paramedics, emergency care assistants, ambulance technicians and other 999 crew, will walkout at five services on December 21.

These are:

– London Ambulance Service

– Yorkshire Ambulance Service

– North West Ambulance Service

– North East Ambulance Service

– South West Ambulance Service

Workers represented by the Unite union will also walk out on December 21 at the following services:

– North West Ambulance Service

– West Midlands Ambulance Service

– North East Ambulance Service

The regions most likely to be hit worst are the North East and North West of England, where all three unions have voted to strike.

Meanwhile, the East of England Ambulance Trust is the only one not affected by the walkouts.

Can you get an ambulance?

It is expected that all category 1 calls – the most life-threatening such as cardiac arrest – will be responded to.

Some ambulance trusts have agreed to exemptions with unions for specific incidents within so-called category 2 which covers serious conditions, such as stroke or chest pain.

However, patients in category three – typically including falls – and category four are unlikely to be sent an ambulance during the strikes.

Military personnel are being drafted in to provide support on ambulance calls during the strike but will not drive ambulances on blue lights for the most serious calls.

Ambulance Strikes
Military personnel from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers on December 21 and 28 (Victoria Jones/PA)

What should you do in an emergency on strike days?

The Department of Health and Social Care has said advice remains for people to call 999 in an emergency.

Health minister Will Quince urged people to stay safe during Wednesday’s strike, telling BBC Breakfast: “Where people are planning any risky activity, I would strongly encourage them not to do so because there will be disruption on the day.”

The health minister also told the public that in any emergency calling 999 should still be the first option.

“But the key thing is for anybody that does have an emergency situation or a life-threatening situation that they continue to call 999 as they would have done previously, and for any other situation, NHS 111 or NHS 111 online.”



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