Yorkshire Ambulance Service urges public to use service 'only when life-threatening' during strike action

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging members of the public to only dial 999 for an ambulance when a patient has a life-threatening or very serious condition, ahead of strikes set to take place this week.
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Industrial action by GMB members is anticipated on Wednesday January 11 for 24 hours, between midnight and midnight across all services, with strike action by UNISON members anticipated between 10am and 10pm on the same day across all services.

More than 10,000 ambulance workers are expected to go on strike nationwide, which means all services run by the Trust will be affected – including A&E operations; frontline emergency ambulances and 999 call handling, non-emergency patient transport service and NHS 111.

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Rachel Harrison, GMB’s National Secretary, said talks with Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Monday “fell well short of anything substantial” that could halt the strikes.

Thousands of staff are expected to walk out as part of strike action on Wednesday.Thousands of staff are expected to walk out as part of strike action on Wednesday.
Thousands of staff are expected to walk out as part of strike action on Wednesday.

She added: “There was some engagement on pay – but not a concrete offer that could help resolve this dispute and make significant progress on the recruitment and retention crisis.

"The public expects the Government to treat these talks seriously – it's time they got on with it.”

The industrial action is part of a wider national pay dispute with the Government. It is understood about 4,150 Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff are a member of either union, out of a workforce of more than 7,000.

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Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “During the strike held just before Christmas, the public responded as we’d asked them to and used our emergency service appropriately for very serious and life-threatening incidents.

“With continued operational pressures and further industrial action across all of our services, we will have less resources available to respond on Wednesday January 11.

“Services will be severely disrupted, with the likelihood of significant delays in emergency responses and telephone calls to 999 and NHS 111 being answered.

“So, we are urging the public to use all of our services more wisely, but particularly the emergency ambulance service.

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“We will be here for those who really need us, but you should only call 999 when someone is in a life-threatening or very serious condition as we prioritise our responses.

“Ambulances will still be able to respond during the strike, but this will only be where there is an immediate risk to life.

“Less serious calls may not receive a response or a significantly delayed response for the duration of the strike action and some patients might be asked to make their own way to hospital, where it is safe for them to do so.

“Patients waiting for an ambulance should only call back if their symptoms worsen or to cancel an ambulance if alternative transport has been arranged, so that our lines are available to take new emergency calls.”

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Members of the public have also been urged by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to seek help and advice from alternative healthcare providers, including NHS 111 Online, their own GP or by visiting a pharmacist.