We will endeavour to reach as many patients as possible, and the public should still call 999 in an emergency. However, to ensure those with the greatest need receive a response, you should be aware that if there is no immediate threat to life, people calling 999 may be advised of alternatives to an ambulance response.
All three unions will be taking a form of action next week:
- Monday, 6 March: Unite and GMB 24-hour strike; Unison action short of strike.
- Wednesday, 8 March: Unison strike (0900 – 2300); GMB action short of strike.
The number of ambulances on the road is being maximised where possible through support from the military and private providers. Senior clinicians will be based in the control rooms to help prioritise ambulances when available. And we is working with NHS and healthcare partners to ensure the system is as well prepared as possible for the disruption.
However, as Director of Operations Ged Blezard explains, a stronger approach from trade unions will mean more patients may not receive a response.
“Two of the unions involved have confirmed they will only allow striking ambulance crews to cover the most life-threatening incidents (Category 1). This means fewer resources are available for strokes, heart attacks, and other emergency incidents. And while not all three unions are striking at the same time, those that aren’t have told us they will take an approach (action short of strike) that severely weakens our ability to share resources across the North West and provide cover where it is needed.
“We need the public to be aware of the situation and again play their part in helping us to keep resources available for those who really need us.
“Please only call 999 in life-threatening emergencies. Other patients will likely be advised by our staff to make their own way to hospital or receive information about where else to seek help. Patients should take advice from 111 / 999 call-handlers on whether there are circumstances where it is suitable for them to make their own way to hospital.
“Typical reasons to call 999 include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, allergic reactions and serious head injuries, heart attack or stroke.
“Your GP or pharmacist will still be available to provide non-urgent health advice, and you can use NHS 111 online (111.nhs.uk) if you are unsure where to go.
“Due to the growing concerns about the response we are able to provide we are calling for a swift resolution to the dispute between the Government and trade unions”.
Industrial action will also affect our 999 control rooms and our Patient Transport service. Consequently, the public is being asked to not repeatedly call 999 asking for updates on where their ambulance is. They should only call back if their condition has worsened or when cancel the ambulance. This will help keep lines free for other emergencies.
Patients using the Patient Transport Service (PTS) on the 6th and 8th could also be affected. Transport will only remain available for renal, oncology and palliative care appointments. Providers will be in touch to inform patients if their appointment is being cancelled or to advise if they need to seek alternative transport.
Remember, NHS 111 Online can tell you:
- Where to get help for your symptoms, if you’re not sure what to do
- How to find general health information and advice
- Where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
- How to get a repeat prescription
More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.
If you are calling us about a mental health concern, please use the mental health crisis lines available in your area:
Greater Manchester (Bury, Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport and Tameside & Glossop – 0800 014 9995)
Greater Manchester (Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Trafford & Wigan)- 0800 953 0285
Lancashire and South Cumbria – 0800 953 0110
North Cumbria 0800 652 2865
Cheshire and Wirral – 0800 145 6485
Liverpool or Sefton- 0800 145 6570
Halton, St Helens, Warrington and Knowsley – 0800 051 1508
– Both GMB and Unite have confirmed they will only derogate ambulance crews to attend to Category 1 (life-threatening) incidents when they strike on Monday, 8th March.