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North West Ambulance Service calls for more public support during January strikes

Written by on 10/01/2023

With further strike action affecting the ambulance service later this month, we are urging the public only to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.

Ambulance service staff from GMB and Unison trade unions will go on strike again on Wednesday, 11 January 2023, with Unison and Unite members taking further action on Monday, 23 January 2023. This is a continuing dispute between trade unions and the government over pay.

While ambulances will still be available on these days, again, we need the public to support us to ensure they are available for people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

Typical emergencies include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or allergic reactions and serious head injuries.

Other patients requiring hospital treatment will likely be asked to take alternative transport, such as a taxi or get a lift from family or friends.

Equally, people should use, their GP or local pharmacy for help with non-urgent health concerns.

This is all the more important as strike action on 11 January will see more staff striking in more service areas. We’ll have reduced ambulance crews but also reduced 999 and 111 call handling staff and fewer staff in our Patient Transport Service (PTS).

Patients who have PTS bookings on 11 January 2023 will only now be 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.

Ged Blezard, Director of Operations, said, “Firstly, I want to thank the public for their support on the previous day of strike action before Christmas. You heeded our messages, and we were grateful to see 999 call volumes drop significantly.

“As before, we are maximising our own resources, using private providers and military support where appropriate and working closely with our trade unions to provide cover for the most serious emergencies. We are also working with our healthcare partners to maintain patient safety during these periods of industrial action.

“But, to get to the people who need us this time, we will require you to do the same again. However, I want to make it clear that if you need us, please continue to ring 999, and we will get there as quickly as we can.

“Ambulance resources will be prioritising life-threatening injuries and illness. Unfortunately, other patients will wait and may be advised to seek alternative transport if they still require hospital treatment.

“We will also be particularly more stretched in our 999 and 111 call centres, which will likely result in longer call response times.

“Therefore, if you have already called 999 to request an ambulance, please only call back if your condition has worsened or to cancel the ambulance. Repeatedly calling 999 can block phone lines for other emergencies.

“And if you need urgent care – first use the symptom checker at NHS 111 online, which will direct you to the most appropriate support. Again, you should call on friends or relatives for transport if necessary.”

[]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

More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.

If you are calling us about a mental health concern, please use the mental health crisis lines available in your area:

Lancashire and South Cumbria – 0800 953 0110

North Cumbria 0800 652 2865