'Don't drink alcohol today!' - NHS boss in nanny state warning as ambulance strike gets underway

Ambulance workers are striking over a pay and working conditions dispute
Ambulance workers are striking over a pay and working conditions dispute

An NHS chief has warned members of the public not to get so drunk that they end up in A&E as ambulance staff walk out across the country

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Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director is advising the public not to get “blind drunk” while NHS ambulance trusts in England and Wales strike over a pay and working conditions dispute.

NHS bosses have warned that eight in ten ambulances will be delayed or won’t arrive during industrial action.

Prof Powis says emergency services for life threatening conditions including heart attacks and strokes will still be available but has asked people to be “sensible” during the season of parties ahead of Christmas.

Prof Stephen Powis has warned people not to get "blind drunk" and end up in A&E
Prof Stephen Powis has warned people not to get "blind drunk" and end up in A&E

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Today is not the best of days to end up in an A&E department if you don't need to be there.

"If you've got yourself blind drunk that doesn't sound like fun to me.”

Every NHS ambulance trusts in England and Wales except East Anglia and the Isle of Wright voted to strike.

The number of people phoning 999 does appear to have dropped in some parts of England with the West Midlands Ambulance Service and ambulances in Southwest England experiencing fewer calls than normal.

Health bosses have continued to urge people to only call an ambulance if they are experiencing a life-threatening emergency.

However, the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that its Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan was full after facing “unprecedented pressures” in A&E.

Thousands of operations and appointments were also hit on Tuesday as nurses staged a second day of strikes.

Picket lines can be seen as ambulance workers strike across the country
Picket lines can be seen as ambulance workers strike across the country

Unions have responded with fury to comments made by Health Secretary Steve Barclay who said they had made a “conscious choice to inflict harm” on patients.

Rachel Harrison of the GMB union said: “Ambulance workers are seething at such a crude, insulting attempt to divert attention from the Government’s continued chaos in the NHS.

“The public know it’s not ambulance workers who have presided over a decade of failure.

“Already today paramedics and ambulance workers have left picket lines to attend to emergency calls. They’ll always put the public first. It’s time for the Government to follow their example."