Ambulance service strikes: North East Ambulance Service issues advice as GMB, Unite and Unison members prepare walk out of NEAS staff

The North East Ambulance Service has issued advice for patients across the region as some of its workers prepare to take industrial action.

National walk-outs are taking place on Wednesday, December 21 for GMB, Unite and Unison union members, who are in dispute with the Government over the pay award for 2022-2023. The action comes two days after the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) declared a critical incident due to “unprecedented pressure impacting its ability to respond to patients”.

The incident was announced on Monday (December 19) ahead of Wednesday’s strike action.

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NEAS has advised there were significant delays for more than 200 patients waiting for an ambulance and a reduction in ambulance crew availability due to delays in handing over patients to hospitals. And on the eve of the walk-outs, NEAS released essential information to the public on how its services will be impacted in the days ahead.

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The service warned patients to prepare for “up to 72 hours of disruption” as operational challenges are expected to last for 48 hours after strike action ends.

During the industrial action – which will run for 24 hours from 12am on Wednesday for GMB and Unite, and 12 hours from 12pm on Wednesday for Unison – ambulance response will be prioritised for those that need it most, where there is an immediate risk to life.

Patients should only call 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency. Otherwise, they are advised to use the NHS 111 service and make their own way to any appointments or treatment centres.

Members of the GMB, Unite and Unison unions will take industrial action on Wednesday, December 21. Picture: North East Ambulance Service.

All unions have agreed that their members will respond in the event of a major incident being declared and some union members who work in emergency care will be exempt from the strike action when dealing with “category 1” calls; where an immediate response to a life-threatening c ondition is needed.

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NEAS confirmed that it is working with private providers for non-urgent patient transport, with the military on hand to help with transportation and patient discharge.

GMB members are also due to take industrial action next week, on Wednesday, December 28.