7 October 2014 - National Industrial Action on Monday 13 October 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 industrial action starting at 0700 on Monday 13 October. The action will take the form of a strike from that time until 1100, and then onwards throughout the week in the form of ‘action, short of strike’. At present, the Trust does not know what form this will take but there is a likelihood of the Trust experiencing a reduction in its available workforce between the hours of 0700 and 1100 on that day. At this time, we are unable to say how many staff we expect to take part from our emergency, patient transport and corporate services. The strike is a legal national one, and is not related to any issue specific to the North West Ambulance Service. Director of Operations, Derek Cartwright comments: “We respect the right for our staff to take industrial action and we know that the decision will not have been an easy for them or the unions to take. Our planning aims to ensure there is as little impact on patient care as possible and for this reason, we have maintained a healthy and lengthy dialogue with our trade union representatives. “Everyone’s priority is to make sure that those who need an emergency ambulance response get one and that has been the focus on all of our discussions. The Trust, our workforce and the unions are fully aware of the duty of care we have to the north west population and as such, are in the process of agreeing some exemptions for that four hour period. However, even with exemptions, with a reduced workforce, there is likely to be some disruption to the 999 service and delays in reaching patients. “We will continue to issue information via the media and on our social media sites as more details are confirmed.” On Monday 13 October, 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.” Patients who have out-patient appointments and have booked transport with the Trust should contact their clinic and check that their appointment is still going ahead.