Ambulance strike: Yorkshire crews will only respond to life-threatening emergencies
Thousands of workers represented by GMB Union will strike for 24 hours on both days and UNISON members will walkout between midday and midnight.
It comes as ambulance services and A&E departments across the country are dealing with a surge in demand and patients are being forced to wait hours for emergency treatment. Yorkshire Ambulance Service and several other trusts have declared critical incidents this week.
Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations, said contingency plans have been put in place for this week's strike, but services "will be severely disrupted" and there could be "significant delays".
“Ambulances will still be able to respond during the strike, but this will only be where there is an immediate risk to life,” he said.
“Less serious calls will not receive a response for the duration of the strike action and some patients might be asked to make their own way to hospital, where it is safe for them to so.
“Patients waiting for an ambulance should only call back if their symptoms worsen or to cancel an ambulance if alternative transport has been arranged, so that our lines are available to take new emergency calls.
“We also ask that people seek help and advice from alternative healthcare providers, including NHS 111 Online, their own GP or by visiting a pharmacist."
He added: “We are urging the public to use the emergency ambulance service more wisely and only to call 999 when someone is in a life-threatening or very serious condition as we prioritise our response to those most in need.”
More than half of Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s 7,000 employees are represented by trade unions which are committed to industrial action.
GMB Union, Unite the Union and Unison recently voted to strike over the Government’s 4 per cent pay offer. They claim this would result in a significant real-term wage cut, as the RPI inflation rate recently reached 14.2 per cent.
Union officials are meeting Health Secretary Steve Barclay though the Government has indicated it will not shift on the issue of pay.
In a last-minute intervention, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and asked him to put an end to the deadlock.
“With less than 24 hours to go to the ambulance strike, there is now deep worry among NHS leaders about the level of harm and risk that could occur to patients tomorrow and beyond,” he wrote.
But the Prime Minister has so far refused to get involved in the negotiations with the trade union officials, despite mounting pressure.
His official spokesman said: “The fundamental approach of the Government has been to accept the recommendations of the independent pay review bodies.
“We don’t think it would be right to add the political element that having the Prime Minister directly involved would have.”