Yorkshire Ambulance Service urges public to use service wisely during industrial action

09 January 2023

During forthcoming industrial action (Wednesday 11 January), Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is, once again, urging members of the public to only dial 999 for an ambulance where a patient has a life-threatening or very serious condition.

Strike action by GMB members is anticipated on Wednesday 11 January for 24 hours, between midnight and midnight (across all services).  Strike action by UNISON members is anticipated between 10am and 10pm on the same day across all services.  This means that all services operated by the Trust will be impacted, including A&E Operations (frontline emergency ambulances and 999 call handling), non-emergency Patient Transport Service (PTS) and NHS 111.

 This industrial action is part of a national pay dispute with the government. 

Union membership in Yorkshire Ambulance Service of both GMB and UNISON is approximately 4,150 staff (out of a workforce of over 7,000). 

Whilst we recognise and respect individuals’ legal right to participate in industrial action, our priority remains ensuring that patient and staff safety, welfare, dignity, and respect are maintained. Yorkshire Ambulance Service has put a number of contingency plans in place to allow it to respond to high acuity life-threatening and very serious cases during the strike.

Discussions between GMB and UNISON representatives and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service senior management team will result in derogations (also known as exemptions) being put in place. For our emergency ambulance service, this will include responding to calls where someone is in a life-threatening condition. For our non-emergency PTS, there are plans to run an essential-only service for patients who need essential life-saving treatment such as renal dialysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other cancer treatment, end-of-life patients and palliative care transport, and limited service for in-patients who are medically fit for discharge from hospital.

Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said:

“During the strike held just before Christmas, the public responded as we’d asked them to and used our emergency service appropriately for very serious and life-threatening incidents. 

“With continued operational pressures and further industrial action across all of our services, we will have less resources available to respond on Wednesday 11 January.  Services will be severely disrupted, with the likelihood of significant delays in emergency responses and telephone calls to 999 and NHS 111 being answered.

“So, we are urging the public to use all of our services more wisely, but particularly the emergency ambulance service.  We will be here for those who really need us, but you should only call 999 when someone is in a life-threatening or very serious condition as we prioritise our responses.

“Ambulances will still be able to respond during the strike, but this will only be where there is an immediate risk to life. Less serious calls may not receive a response or a significantly delayed 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 (111.nhs.uk), their own GP or by visiting a pharmacist.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million people. The organisation receives around average of over 3,500 emergency and routine calls per day and employs over 7,200 staff.

The Patient Transport Service made over 706,000 journeys in 2021-22 transporting eligible patients to and from hospital and treatment centre appointments. The Trust’s NHS 111 service helped around 1.7 million patients across Yorkshire and the Humber, Bassetlaw, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire during 2021-22. To find out more about YAS, please visit the website at www.yas.nhs.uk

Produced by: Corporate Communications Department