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February 3, 2023

Latest message from North West Ambulance Service

Ambulances wait outside Royal Bolton Hospital's Emergency Department in the rain

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is urging the public to use the health service wisely as another round of strikes impacts NWAS and the NHS next week.

For the first time, combined strike action will see ambulance staff and nurses take industrial action on the same day, stretching resources in the ambulance service and hospitals.

Specifically, members of Unite, GMB and the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) will strike on Monday, 6 February.

The RCN strike will continue on Tuesday 7th, with colleagues from Unison striking on Friday 10 February.

Ambulances, while still available, will be limited on Monday and Friday. While there will be fewer staff working in our 999 and 111 call centres and for the Patient Transport Service (PTS).

Consequently, we need the public to only 999 in life-threatening emergencies as they have done previously.

Ged Blezard, Director of Operations at North West Ambulance Service, says:

It’s vital we keep the ambulances we do have available for those who really need us.

“Reasons to continue to call 999 include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, allergic reactions and serious head injuries.

“Unfortunately, other patients who require hospital treatment will likely be asked to take alternative transport, and there may be delays.

“For non-urgent concerns, please seek help from NHS 111 online, or contact your GP and pharmacist both will be operating during next week’s strikes

“Also, please do not repeatedly call 999 asking for updates on where your ambulance is. Only call us back if your condition has worsened or to cancel the ambulance. We need to keep lines free for other emergencies.

“I am pleased to say that the public has listened to the previous messages we have, and call volumes have fallen on days of strike action. I want to say thank you, but I am also keen for this to continue.

As before, we are maximising our own resources, using private providers and military support where appropriate and working closely with our trade unions to provide cover for the most serious emergencies. We are also working with our healthcare partners to maintain patient safety during these periods of industrial action.

Patients using the Patient Transport Service (PTS) on the 6th and 10th may also be affected. Transport will only remain available for renal, oncology and palliative care appointments. Providers will be in touch to inform you if your appointment is being cancelled or to advise if you need to seek alternative transport.

While we hope for a swift resolution to the dispute, ultimately, this is a matter between the trade unions and the government, and we must respect our colleague’s rights to take industrial action.

NHS 111 Online can tell you:

  • Where to get help for your symptoms, if you’re not sure what to do
  • How to find general health information and advice
  • Where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
  • How to get a repeat prescription

More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.

If you are calling us about a mental health concern, please use the mental health crisis lines available in your area:

Greater Manchester (Bury, Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport and Tameside & Glossop – 0800 014 9995)

Greater Manchester (Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Trafford & Wigan)- 0800 953 0285

Lancashire and South Cumbria – 0800 953 0110

North Cumbria 0800 652 2865

Cheshire and Wirral – 0800 145 6485

Liverpool or Sefton- 0800 145 6570

Halton, St Helens, Warrington and Knowsley – 0800 051 1508

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