National ambulance and NHS trade unions have announced two days of strike action. For Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), the industrial action will take place by GMB members on Wednesday 21 December and Wednesday 28 December, for 24 hours, between midnight and midnight. Local NHS teams continue to work hard to minimise disruption from the industrial action but it is expected that there will be a significant impact on local health services.
Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that people who need urgent medical care continue to come forward, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk. Ambulances will still be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is an immediate risk to life. There will be fewer ambulances on the roads during industrial action, with the NHS prioritising those with life-threatening needs. As a result people whose conditions are not life-threatening are unlikely to get an ambulance on strike days.
During the action, it is likely 999 call handlers will be very busy. NHS 111 call centres will have fewer staff, with longer call response times expected across the system. As a result, we are urging anyone with non-urgent care need to first seek help from NHS 111 online (www.111.nhs.uk). Patients should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency – when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Local services are exceptionally busy at the moment and staff are working extremely hard under very challenging circumstances. Given how busy hospitals already are and the potential impact of strike action, we would ask the public to help us ensure that hospitals can focus on their sickest patients by seeking alternative support through NHS111 online or by calling NHS 111, where the situation is not life-threatening. NHS 111 is free and they can give urgent advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The NHS UK website has more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E.
There is a range of other local services available to meet your healthcare needs, including your GP practice. People looking for support for any emotional health and wellbeing issues can also access a range of mental health services. More details on these services are available through the Healthy Minds website https://www.healthyminds.services/
What is happening?
Trade unions representing some NHS staff are in dispute with the Government over the 2022/23 pay award. A number of the unions have balloted their NHS members to take part in industrial action. As a result members of the GMB, Unite and Unison (ambulance staff) are striking on 21 December and members of GMB (ambulance staff) are striking on the 28 December.
The NHS wants to see a resolution as soon as possible, but pay is a matter for the Government and the trade unions.
What if I need urgent or emergency care?
Anyone who needs urgent care should use NHS111 online (www.111.nhs.uk) to be assessed and directed to the right care for them. If you do not have internet access then 111 helpline is available. When someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should seek emergency care in the normal way, by calling 999.
Will emergency care be affected on strike days?
Emergency care will continue to be available. It is really important that in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or their life is at risk – patients continue to come forward.
What should I do if I need an ambulance?
People should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. 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 will not receive an ambulance response for the duration of the strike action and some people might be asked to make their own way to hospital, where it is safe for them to so.
For all other health care needs support will be available through NHS111 online (if you do not have internet access then the NHS 111 helpline is available to take calls), your GP practice or local pharmacy.
What is considered an emergency?
People should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, or there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.
How long will services be impacted?
The ambulance strikes on 21 and 28 December will last for 24 hours. However people should be aware that it may take slightly longer for services to return to normal.