AMBULANCE workers across the UK are once again striking today in a row over pay.
Brits have been warned to only call 999 in ‘life-threatening’ circumstances.
Brits face a “postcode lottery” of care across the country with tens of thousands of staff returning to picket lines.
Up to 600 Armed Forces personnel were last night ready to step in to ease the chaos as talks over pay and conditions were gridlocked.
Under trade union law, emergency cover will still be provided.
Ambulance workers represented by the GMB union will strike tomorrow.
Those in the North West, North East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland will take to the pickets.
Meanwhile, emergency staff in the Unite union have announced ten days of action.
Strikes will begin tomorrow – with action set to hit again on February 16, 17, 20, 22 and 24. Staff will then join the pickets on March 6 and March 20.
The action will include paramedics, emergency care assistants and call handlers.
Tomorrow’s strikes will hit the North West, North East, West Midlands, East Midlands and Wales.
Need an ambulance?
In the event of an emergency you should call 999 or visit your nearest A&E department, however strike action might mean you are delayed or are unable to get the usual level of care you might need.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay today urged Brits to ‘use their common sense’ when it comes to calling out emergency services.
- Have you been affected by the ambulance strikes? Get in touch – email@example.com
Guidance from the NHS states patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life.
Ambulances will still be dispatched where clinically appropriate.
Category 1 calls are for the most life-threatening emergencies, such as cardiac arrest.
Category 2 incidents, cover conditions such as strokes or chest pain.
Category 3 calls include people who have severe abdominal pain, have suffered a fall, or patients who can be treated in their own homes.
This group is unlikely to be sent an ambulance during strike action, with patient transport services prioritising those with cancer and palliative care appointments.
Sir Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, said on Wednesday: “We’ve been working very closely with the unions to ensure that emergency services for life-threatening conditions are maintained, and that will include stroke and heart attacks.
“There are increased clinicians in call centres to ensure that the right response goes out to the right incident.”
He added that strokes fall into category 2 cases, and said clinicians would determine what sort of response was needed.
He said people should dial 999 “as usual” if they have a life-threatening condition.
The NHS said that it will be using the military to transfer patients with less urgent conditions to and from hospital.
St John Ambulance and Community First responders will also be used so that patients don’t miss out on care.
Guidance also states that the NHS will use taxis to transport less critically ill people to and from hospital where clinically appropriate.
Strong clinical triage will also be in place today across call centres, the NHS said.