Plea to continue using ambulance services wisely during an expected extended period of industrial action
North East Ambulance Service is once again appealing to the public to use services wisely as it prepares for another period of industrial action.
Unison, GMB and Unite unions are calling on their members to take part in industrial action once again over a dispute with the Government over the 2022/23 pay award.
Negotiations between the Government and unions continue but until a resolution is reached, NEAS is preparing for industrial action to continue as planned for further periods of action from Saturday 18 March to Friday 23 March.
All service lines are affected, including ambulance crews, 999 and 111 call centres and Patient Transport Service (PTS).
The periods of action are expected as follows:
Unison – action short of strike:
*18/3/23 00:00 – 20/3/23 07:00
*20/3/23 19:00 – 23/3/23 23:59
Unison – strike action
*20/3/23 07:00 hours until 19:00
GMB - strike action
*20/3/23 06:01 until 21/03/23 05:59 hours
Unite - strike action
*20/3/23 00:00 - 23:59
Unison is planning action short of a strike for a week from Saturday 18 March through to Friday 23 March, will a full 12-hour strike planned for Monday 20 March.
For the 20 March, Unison has agreed derogations for its members to respond to category 1 calls and category calls where a clinician has deemed that a person is at risk of losing a life or limb. The union has agreed that there will be 70% coverage within the Emergency Operations Centre and that patient transport crews will continue to offer transport for essential clinics, such as dialysis and oncology.
However, GMB has escalated its action and has agreed for its members to respond to category 1 calls only. No derogations have been agreed with GMB for patient transport services, call taking or, dispatch.
As a result, it is likely there will be fewer ambulances available to respond to Category 2 calls, such as stroke and chest pain, during this period of action.
Both unions have agreed that their members will respond in the event of a major incident being declared.
Vicky Court, deputy chief operating officer at North East Ambulance Service, said: “During previous periods of action, demand on our service has remained high and we expect the same again this week.
“With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that the public continue to help us prioritise our resources for those who need them most by using our services wisely.
“We will do all we can to keep our patients safe. We really do appreciate your support and thank you, once again, for helping us to keep the public safe.”
North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) covers 3,200 square miles across the North East region. It employs more than 2,900 staff and serves a population of 2.7 million people by handling all NHS 111 and 999 calls for the region, operating patient transport and ambulance response services, delivering training for communities and commercial audiences and providing medical support cover at events.
For further guidance on the industrial action, visit the NHS England website.