SOME patients are being told to go to the emergency room or book a taxi as a wave of strikes sweeps the NHS.
In parts of the UK, even people who are having a heart attack or stroke at home cannot get an ambulance during the strike in two days.
Meanwhile, nurses will stage another strike tomorrow – with tens of thousands of surgeries and appointments.
Union leaders threaten six months of action.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay will tell you tomorrow that patient care is paramount.
Eight in 10 ambulances will be delayed or not show up on strike, NHS bosses warn.
And in the Northwest, anyone who needs to get to the emergency room from a general practitioner’s office, intensive care center or nursing home is told to hail a cab or take an elevator.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay is to read the riot act to union bosses tomorrow as tensions run high on strike days beyond 999.
A government source said he would send “a pretty clear warning” to militant bosses that patient care was paramount.
It comes during a week of strike chaos for the healthcare sector – with nurses staging their second strike tomorrow.
Surgery and cancer care will be affected again. Strike leaders warned that action could “escalate” in the new year unless ministers back down on pay.
Unions have only one guaranteed response to Category One emergency calls, where life and limb is at stake, in the first ambulance strike in decades.
They account for about 15 percent of incidents – meaning the remaining 85 percent will be affected by delays.
Plans for emergency care during wage strikes have been drawn up by local union representatives and regional NHS bosses.
The health secretary called a meeting of Unison, GMB and Unite on the eve of the industrial action to stress that urgent care must not be jeopardized.
Mr Barclay said Brits should still call 999 in an emergency but braced themselves for a “heavy impact”.
A spokesman for No10 said: “It is only fair that patients are given clarity as to what care patients are receiving on strike days.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I am really disappointed to see the unions calling for these strikes, especially at Christmas when they have such an impact on people’s daily lives.
“I urge them to continue to consider whether these strikes are really necessary and to do everything possible to mitigate the impact on people.”
Joyce Robins of Patient Concern said: “When a relative is really in trouble or you are in this situation yourself, if there are no ambulances it is a very serious matter.
“I’m all for people getting the money they need, but you have to have emergency services on hand or people could die. That `s not worth it.”
Crews at two services in the north of England would only guarantee people would be taken to the emergency room if they died during the strike.
One of them, the North East Ambulance Service, even declared a “critical incident” yesterday because of “unprecedented pressure”.
The service said in the afternoon that more than 200 patients were waiting for an ambulance, but there were significant delays.
Chief Operating Officer Stephen Segasby said, “Reporting a critical incident allows us to focus our resources on the patients most in need.”
The Northeast Service said striking staff will only attend “Category One and Category Two calls in a public place,” The Times reported.
I’m all for people getting the money they need, but you have to have emergency services on hand or people could die. That `s not worth it.
Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern
That means patients who suffer a heart attack or stroke at home may not get an ambulance. Mr Segasby insisted: “Ambulances will still be able to respond during the strike, but will only do so where there is an imminent threat to life.”
Meanwhile, the North West Ambulance Service said it would not pick up patients from a general practitioner’s office, nursing home or walk-in center unless their heart or breathing have stopped.
Otherwise, they must resort to “self-transport or taxi transport”.
In November there were an average of 18,917 ambulance calls per day in England, of which 2,722 were category one calls – 14 per cent.
That means more than 16,000 lower-priority incidents are at risk of being delayed or not getting an ambulance.
East Midlands Ambulance Service Operations Manager Ben Holdaway said: “Our responses to our patients will be much slower that day.”
More than 25,000 ambulance workers from the Unison, Unite and GMB unions were able to get out.
They voted to strike against all NHS ambulance trusts in England and Wales except East Anglia and the Isle of Wight.
A second day of action is scheduled for December 28th.
Unison Secretary General Christina McAnea said: “Contingency plans will be in place. These are drawn up by each ambulance employer in cooperation with the unions.”
Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, warned: “There will be patients who wait a lot longer than we would like – and many will probably not get a response at all.”
https://www.the-sun.com/health/6951574/book-taxis-ae-nurse-ambulance-strikes/ Urgent warning as sick Brits told to book taxis to visit A&E as ambulance and nurse strikes pummel NHS