Almost 1,500 Yorkshire ambulance workers are on strike today (Wednesday).
Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff have walked out over the government’s imposed 4 per cent pay award.
The GMB union’s national secretary Rachel Harrison said: “To end this dispute, GMB needs a concrete offer to help resolve the NHS’s crushing recruitment and retention crisis.
“The public expects the Government to treat this dispute seriously – it’s time they got on with it.”
Meanwhile, Yorkshire Ambulance Service has issued this Q&A over what to do if you need an ambulance during the strike.
Q: What should people do if they need an ambulance?
A: People should only call 999 if there is a risk to life, or someone is seriously ill or injured. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate. For all other healthcare needs, support will be available at www.111.nhs.uk or at a local GP surgery or pharmacy.
Q: What is considered an emergency, and will my 999 call be answered?
A: You should only call 999 if there is a risk to life, for example, a cardiac arrest, unconscious patient or catastrophic bleed, or if someone is seriously ill or injured such as a stroke or a serious traumatic injury. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.
Q: How many fewer ambulances will you have responding to emergencies in Yorkshire and the Humber?
A: It is not possible to say how many colleagues will be participating in industrial action as it is a personal decision made on the day of action by individual members of the trade unions which have the mandate to strike
We have been working with our local and national trade union representatives to agree exemptions (also referred to as derogations) for patients which some UNISON and GMB members may still attend during the period of industrial action.
However, we are clear that we will not be able to respond to all 999 calls, and there are likely to be significant delays in responses to patients who have a less serious illness or injury.
Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our patients and staff. We have planned with great care for this industrial action, but we anticipate that our services will be extremely busy and we do expect them to be severely disrupted.
Q: If the ambulance is taking a long time to arrive, what should I do?
A: It is likely to take us longer than normal to get to patients on days of industrial action because there will be fewer ambulances available.
Staff in our emergency operations centres (999 control rooms) will carefully assess and prioritise an ambulance response for those who need it most, and this may only be where there is a threat to life or limb.
You may be asked to make your own way to hospital or a medical treatment centre if it is safe to do so.
If you are waiting for an ambulance, please do not call 999 again to ask for an updated estimated time of arrival for an ambulance.
You should only call 999 again if you wish to cancel the ambulance because you are making their own way to hospital, or if the patient’s condition has significantly worsened.
Q: Will my non-emergency patient transport be impacted?
A: Only essential Patient Transport Services (PTS) journeys will be taking place on 11 January. This will be for essential appointments to renal dialysis, chemotherapy, cardiology or oncology, and end-of-life-care.
Our PTS planning teams have been working with hospitals and clinics to identify essential journeys and cancel those journeys which do not meet the essential criteria.
Patients will be contacted directly by the hospital or the ambulance service to inform them of a cancellation.
Hospital discharges will be prioritised to ensure hospitals and emergency ambulances have capacity to receive patients with a life-threatening condition.
Q: Do I need to cancel my transport and hospital appointment for the days of industrial action?
A: No, patients should expect their booked transport to arrive as normal and should attend their appointments as normal, unless contacted directly by the hospital or the ambulance service to inform them of a cancellation.
Q: If staff are already on shift and treating a patient when the industrial action begins, will they just stop working?
A: If delivering patient services, staff must complete the patient call they are on before they are permitted to stand down; this includes in call centres as well as providing direct patient care.
Q: Will you be receiving support from the military?
A: We are using 40 military personnel to support with the transportation of low acuity patients and our discharge service.