Everything you need to know about the ambulance strikes
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Thousands of ambulance workers will be taking part in strike action on Wednesday in an effort to receive pay increases and improved working conditions. Brits are being warned to use emergency NHS services “wisely” and only calling 999 when there is a life-threatening emergency, otherwise to call 111.
As 25,000 paramedics and ambulance workers are set to strike for the first time in over 30 years, 10 out of the 11 NHS trusts in England and Wales will be severely impacted.
According to health bosses, it is “a very dangerous time” for Britain as they “cannot guarantee patient safety” during the strikes.
Brits have been warned against “risky activity” which could lead to health issues such as contact sport and even unnecessary car journeys.
The NHS has also warned people to “drink responsibly” during the festive period in an effort to prevent further accidents and injuries.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay declared that it is a “very worrying time” for Britain a the public must “take care and look out for their vulnerable friends, relatives, and neighbours.”
Across the country, the majority of unions have only agreed to cover the most urgent life-threatening emergencies which leaves victims of strokes and heart attacks potentially unable to receive an ambulance.
Data leaked to the Health Service Journal revealed that waiting times for heart attacks and strokes had exceeded over three hours in some areas.
Pregnant women have been told they no long have the option of home birth in a number of regions due to the lack of ambulance back up.
In the Telegraph, the Health Secretary wrote: “We now know that the NHS contingency plans will not cover all 999 calls.
“Ambulance unions have made a conscious choice to inflict harm on patients”.
He added that contingency planning for the complications of the strike action is “almost impossible”.
The unions have reportedly refused to clarify which emergency calls will be covered during the strikes and which cases will be responded to.
In an attempt to lessen the impact of the ambulance worker strikes, 750 military personnel have been drafted to drive ambulances during the strikes.
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While the personnel will provide much needed support, they are unable to provide medical support and cannot drive the ambulances with blue lights or through red traffic lights.
Ambulance response times are already double the length they were two years ago, and A&E departments are under considerable pressure.
In a last-ditch attempt to get all emergency calls covered, Mr Barclay held talks with union officials which broke down after ministers were slammed for refusing to address pay.
Another ambulance strike is set for December 28 and further strikes potentially set for the New Year.
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