'Don't have a car crash tomorrow' - Ambulance strike warning as heart attack victims told to 'get a taxi' to hospital
Patients warned about 'severe impact' as ambulance workers strike over pay
People suffering from a heart attack or stroke at home will not be able to get an ambulance during a staff walkout tomorrow, NHS officials have said.
Patients will be told to get themselves to A&E or to book a taxi as contingency plans are put in place ahead of the ambulance strikes.
NHS bosses have warned that eight in ten ambulances will be delayed or won’t arrive during industrial action.
And one ambulance chief said: “The best we can hope for is that everyone stays indoors, no one falls over, no one gets ill and no one has a car crash.”
Thousands of operations and appointments have already been hit today as nurses stage a second day of strikes over a pay and working conditions dispute.
Union chiefs are threatening six months of action.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay is set to meet union officials today to stress the importance of patient care and to insist that both category one calls – the most immediate life-threatening cases – and category two calls which includes heart attacks and strokes are addressed.
Mr Barclay has said those in an emergency should still call 999 but brace for “severe impact”.
The Minister of State for Health has blasted the health strikes as "unjustifiable and unnecessary".
Speaking to GB News this morning, Will Quince said: “Any strikes are deeply regrettable and they are matters for the Union and I wish that they weren't happening. What's important to stress is that the Government accepted the Independent Pay Review bodies recommendations in full.
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“Discussions are happening at the individual ambulance trust level with the unions now. But my message to the unions is clear. These strikes are unjustifiable and unnecessary.
"The government accepted the Pay Review bodies recommendations in full, if strikes are to go ahead it's important that patient safety is the priority for the unions as it is for the Government and that's got to be ensuring that the most serious call outs for ambulances, so cat one and cat two, for example, are covered on strike day.
“Our door is open to discuss any issues that the unions would like to, the only thing that we have said we are not reopening is the Pay Review Body Recommendation, which, as I said, the Government accepted in full. We hope to have those conversations with unions later today to ensure patients are as safe as possible on strike day.
“But I still say to the unions call off the strikes, they are unjustified and unjustifiable."
Rachel Harrison, GMB’s national secretary told the Health and Social Care Committee today that ambulance workers have the highest level of sickness out of NHS staff because of the “terrible conditions” they are working in.
She said: “Nothing was done and those issues are even worse now. So our members are exhausted.
“And this isn’t just the frontline paramedics, technicians, emergency care assistants. This is the call centre – people who are having to deal with this influx of calls and screaming families and friends who are frustrated.
“And the massive increase in mental health calls that they’re having to deal with because there are no, or there have been significantly reduce access to community and mental health services.
“So the whole impact across the workforce is massive and our members are pleading on the Government to do something about this now.
Every NHS ambulance trusts in England and Wales except East Anglia and the Isle of Wright voted to strike.
A second day of strike action will go ahead on December 28.
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