18 Nov 2014 - National Industrial Action Monday 24 November 2014

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) has received confirmation from its three recognised trade unions – GMB, Unison and Unite, that their members will be taking part in national industrial action starting at 0700 on Monday 24 November. 

The action will take the form of a strike between the hours of 0700 and 1100 on Monday 24 November and for the remainder of the week, unions have instructed members to take action short of strike action. This is currently planned to take place in various forms and is differing between unions.

NWAS recognises three unions – Unison (which has the largest membership share), Unite and GMB. All three have now given the Trust an indication as to the level of service they will ask members to provide. Exemptions to the strike action will be made for all Red 1 and Red 2 incidents – these are for life-threatening and potentially life-threatening calls and have a national response target of eight minutes. Unions have also agreed to enable an ambulance response to cases of major trauma. In the event of a major incident being declared, the strike will be stood down and the Trust will respond as usual.

As yet, NWAS has yet to have confirmation regarding staffing for the Trust’s patient transport service (PTS) or control rooms, however, as the strike is a national one, patients are advised to check with clinics with regard to their out-patient appointments.

The Trust’s discussions with the unions on the subject of exemptions are still ongoing and there is still the possibility that things could change. NWAS won’t know until the day how many staff are going on strike or how many will agree to attend incidents.

Director of Operations, Derek Cartwright, comments: “The Trust is pleased there has been recognition that a service is needed for those with life-threatening conditions but is aware that based on the October’s action, the industrial action may result in delays to patients of all categories.

“The Trust is exploring all avenues to maintain as much of the service as possible and volunteer and private agencies such as Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance and mountain rescue teams are in discussions with NWAS with regard to how they will be available to respond to patients during the strike.”

The Trust continues to ask the public to ensure ambulances are free to attend those with a critical need for emergency treatment and to contact their GP or speak with a pharmacist if their case is not urgent.

On Monday 24 November, as always, the Trust will prioritise incidents according to urgent clinical need and if calls are received for a minor complaint, in line with our usual protocols, patients may be advised to seek alternative pathways of care or call 111 for further assessment or advice.

Derek adds; “We would always ask patients to consider this advice but it is especially important that, during the hours of the strike, the public only call us for urgent life-threatening emergencies. With a possible reduced workforce, it is imperative that ambulances and crews are available for those with critical conditions and the public’s help in this would be greatly appreciated.

“The Trust will still be expected to attain its target of 8 minutes for the life-threatening Red calls and with a reduced workforce, this will be a challenge, however, the Trust will strive to do so.”