Public urged to prepare for national ambulance service strike

24 hour strike action planned for 29th January

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is calling for members of the public to prepare ahead of a 24 hour strike on Thursday 29th January from 00:01 to 23:59. 

GMB members plan to strike for the full 24 hours and UNISON members plan to be on strike from 12 noon until midnight.

A significantly reduced service will be operating on the 29th during the strike, responding only to patients with life threatening conditions. 

Simon Swallow, Head of Resilience and Specialist Operations at North East Ambulance Service, said, “We expect this strike to have a significant impact on our response to 999 calls and we urge people around the region to plan ahead with the advice below,”

  • If you are feeling unwell before Thursday 29 January do not to wait to get help, but to seek advice from your GP, local walk in centre or pharmacist beforehand.
  • If you have a long-term or chronic condition and you are feeling unwell on Thursday 29 January, try not to be alone if you think you may need support to either get to hospital or to access other healthcare options.
  • If you have regular medication – please make sure you have collected your prescription from the GP, have been to the pharmacist to collect it and have it to hand.
  • If you are under the care of a community health team, make sure that you have their contact numbers to hand.
  • If you are in the late stages of pregnancy, please check any arrangements you have made with friends or family to ensure that they can take you to hospital in case we can’t send an ambulance
  • If you look after vulnerable groups – such as older people, children and people with long-term conditions – be prepared to make alternative arrangements to get medical help or transport those in their care to hospital.

This is the third national strike over pay. Unlike the previous two occasions, this strike is planned to span a period of 24 hours.  It is the result of a national dispute that cannot be resolved by North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Swallow continues: “We are taking all reasonable steps to mitigate the consequences of this action and we have negotiated with the unions to ensure that the impact of their action is minimised, as far as possible, on our emergency care, patient transport and both 999 and 111 services.”

Action short of strike is proposed to continue by Unison members only until 24th February 2015.

It’s imperative that during this period, the public should only use the 999 number in a life-threatening emergency.

NEAS will not be able to respond to some less serious   green calls, nor provide a service for GP practices requesting urgent transport on Thursday, January 29th 2015.

The action is expected to affect the answering of 999 and 111 calls, cause delays in dispatching and add pressure to the contact centre before, during and after the day, to clear a backlog of calls and routine appointments.

The ambulance trust has postponed training and non-essential meetings during the strike action and will be placing qualified managers and appropriately trained support staff onto front-line duties where appropriate.

The unions have agreed that all NEAS staff will return to normal duties in the event of a major incident in the North East during the strike period.

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