Ambulance Service Warns of Long Delays during Strike on Thursday

Service's Chief Exec advises Londoners to plan ahead and use other NHS services

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London Ambulance Service is advising Londoners to plan ahead and expect long delays during the 24 hour NHS strike due to take place on Thursday January 29.

The Service warns that if the strike goes ahead it will be longer than on previous occasions and so will be much more disruptive.

The Service is issuing advice to people on regular medication, those who have long term illnesses and older people for the period of industrial action which is due to start at one minute past midnight on Wednesday night and continue until midnight on Thursday.

It is asking friends and family of vulnerable people to make arrangements to support their relative, friend or neighbour. Either to take them to hospital or use other healthcare options such as Urgent Care Centres, pharmacies, their GP and NHS 111.

As well a being under considerable pressure during the strike itself disruption will continue on Friday as the Service works hard to return to normal operating.

Chief Executive Dr Fionna Moore says: “We will only be able to send an ambulance response to the most seriously ill and injured patients. That’s why we’re advising:

If you are feeling unwell before Thursday January 29 do not to wait to get help, but to seek advice from your GP or pharmacist beforehand.

If you have a long-term or chronic condition and you are feeling unwell on Thursday 29 January, try not to be alone if you think you may need support to either get to hospital or to access other healthcare options.

If you have regular medication – please make sure you have collected your prescription from the GP, have been to the pharmacist to collect it and have it to hand.

If you are under the care of a community health team, make sure that you have their contact numbers to hand.

If you are in the late stages of pregnancy please make check any arrangements you have made with friends or family to ensure that they can take you to hospital should you go into labour this Thursday, as we will not be able to send an ambulance.

Dr Moore adds: "Those looking after vulnerable groups – such as older people, children and people with long-term conditions – should be prepared to make alternative arrangements to get medical help or transport those in their care to hospital."

This third period of industrial action is more significant than previous strikes because it is for 24 hours rather than four. This means that, as well as lengthy delays, some people will not get an ambulance response if they are not in an immediately life-threatening condition.

Dr Moore warns: " We will be unable to send an ambulance response to some patients with broken bones, some older people who may have fallen and cannot get up and some people in road traffic collisions where their life is not immediately at risk. We’d encourage Londoners to plan ahead, be sensible about their activities and be prepared should they need medical help on Thursday."

Londoners are advised to contact other healthcare providers instead of calling 999 – such as visiting their pharmacist, Urgent Care Centre or GP, calling NHS 111 or making their own way to an emergency department if they need urgent treatment.

For further updates, follow the Ambulance Service on Twitter at @ldn-ambulance or visit Facebook here.

The 24-hour strike, the third in the protest over pay, has been called by the GMB union and will overlap with a 12-hour stoppage of Unison and Unite members starting at midday on Thursday. Talks to avert it have so far been unsuccessful.

Unions said they had no option but to take action after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt refused to implement the recommendations of an independent pay review body.

He has offered staff a one per cent rise but has restricted this to those not already receiving an incremental increase. The NHS pay review body said the rise should be given to all staff.

January 27, 2015