North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is urging the public again to only dial 999 for an ambulance during strike days for life-threatening conditions or injury.
Two unions have voted to take part in industrial action on Monday 23 January in a national dispute with the Government over the 2022/23 pay award:
07:00h – 19:00h (12 hours) – all staff
00:01 – 23:59 (24 hours) – all staff
Chief operating officer at North East Ambulance Service, Stephen Segasby said: “Industrial action brings incredible challenges for our service.
“The public have really supported us with fewer 999 calls, which helped us to prioritise our resources to those most in need. But with fewer people available to respond to non-emergency incidents, we understandably want to warn and inform people once again on how best to use our service and what to expect from us during the period of action.
“Our partners across the NHS also gave us great support to keep our crews on the road last time. However, we know what pressure other parts of the health system are currently experiencing so we cannot rely on that alone.”
NEAS will have in place contingencies for the national strikes by healthcare unions and has agreed some exemptions to allow the service to respond to high acuity life-threatening cases during the strike. However, the ambulance service will not be able to respond to all calls of a serious nature and there will be significant delays for patients who have a less serious illness or injury.
Stephen added: “We will focus our resources on those who are most in need, but there will be fewer ambulances responding during the strike and this will only be where there is an immediate risk to life.
“This means that less serious calls will not receive a response for the duration of the strike action and some patients will be asked to make their own way to hospital, where it is safe for them to do so.
“We ask that the public continue to consider which is the best service for their needs and only call 999 in a life or limb threatening emergency.
“Patients waiting for an ambulance should only call back if your symptoms worsen so that our health advisors are available to take new emergency calls; or to call back to cancel an ambulance if alternative transport has been arranged.
“In anticipation of this disruption, we once again thank everyone involved and supporting us to help keep patients safe.”
During the period of industrial action, GP surgeries, pharmacies and urgent treatment centres will still be open and www.111.nhs.uk will be available.
For further guidance on the industrial action, visit the NHS England website.