Ambulance strike: North West Ambulance Service advice and where to get help in Merseyside

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Paramedics, call handlers, drivers and technicians are striking today.

As many as 25,000 emergency service workers, including ambulance drivers, have began 24 hours of industrial action across England and Wales.

The strike action affects emergency service workers at hospitals in Liverpool and across Merseyside as two unions - GMB and Unison - coordinate their efforts. Unison will also take part in strike action on January 23 if a pay agreement is not made.

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Paramedics, call handlers, drivers and technicians are taking part in today’s action, with no individual striking for longer than 12 hours. Call handlers will be striking for six hour periods.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is asking the public to call 999 only in life-threatening situations whilst strike action takes place and to use 111 services online, rather than by telephone.

According to NWAS, life-threatening conditions or emergencies include: cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, continuous fits, allergic reactions and serious head injuries.

Bigger than the strike in December, it is expected that fewer ambulances will be on the road and it will take longer for emergency calls to be answered.

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What has been said?

Ged Blezard, Director of Operations, said, “Firstly, I want to thank the public for their support on the previous day of strike action before Christmas. You heeded our messages, and we were grateful to see 999 call volumes drop significantly.

“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.

“But, to get to the people who need us this time, we will require you to do the same again. However, I want to make it clear that if you need us, please continue to ring 999, and we will get there as quickly as we can.

“Ambulance resources will be prioritising life-threatening injuries and illness. Unfortunately, other patients will wait and may be advised to seek alternative transport if they still require hospital treatment.

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“We will also be particularly more stretched in our 999 and 111 call centres, which will likely result in longer call response times.”

He added that people should use NHS 111’s online symptom checker to find out where to go for help and call on friends or relatives for transport if necessary.

Seeking help

  • Still call 999 if you’re facing an emergency.
  • For non-urgent care and advice, visit a local pharmacy, your GP or use NHS 111 online.
  • Emergency departments are still running, if you need to visit a hospital but your condition is not life-threatening, seek alternative transport from friends and family.
  • For mental health support, call the mental health crisis helplines:

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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