Ambulance service staff set to go on strike

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Ambulance staff in the North-West are set to go on strike later this month.

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) say they have received confirmation from trade unions GMB, Unison and Unite that their members will be taking part in industrial action starting on Monday, October 13th.

On the first day the action will take the form of a strike between 7am and 11am.

Throughout the rest of the week, members will be participating in “action, short of strike” - although the Trust say they do not know what form this will take.

They say there is a likelihood of the Trust experiencing a reduction in its available workforce between the hours of 07am and 11am, and that they are unable to say how many staff are expected to take part from emergency, patient transport and corporate services.

The NWAS have added that 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, said: “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.”

The Trust will be prioritising incidents according to urgent clinical need. Patients with minor complaints may be advised to seek alternative pathways of care or call 111.

Mr Cartwright added: “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.