Ambulance staff have gone on strike this morning (Monday, October 13) in a dispute over pay.
Workers at the East Midlands Ambulance Service have walked out as part of the ongoing nationwide NHS pay dispute.
The four-hour EMAS strike is taking place between 7am and 11am today, followed by further action short of a strike – including not undertaking paid or unpaid overtime – during the rest of until Friday, October 17.
EMAS says it has been in detailed discussion with GMB and Unison representatives to understand the type of action that will take place and how EMAS can continue to respond to patients suffering a life-threatening injury or illness during the industrial action.
Sue Noyes, EMAS chief executive, said: “We recognise the right of our staff to take industrial action in response to this national issue and we respect and understand that their decision to strike is a difficult one to make.”
She said EMAS had been preparing contingency plans to mitigate the impact on patients, adding: “Union colleagues have confirmed that they will respond to life-threatening emergencies during the four-hour period and I thank them for putting the safety of our most acutely ill patients first.
“However, the action will affect all non life-threatening emergency calls we receive and it is inevitable that we will face significant pressure both during and after the period of industrial action.
“Wherever possible, we will deal with these non life-threatening calls by providing telephone advice and directing people to the most appropriate NHS service.
“This may include asking people who are not in a life-threatening or serious condition to make their own way to an assessment centre via a friend or family member, taxi or public transport.
“We will respond to calls that do require an ambulance response as quickly as possible after staff return to normal working. However, the backlog may take some time to clear and patients may therefore experience some delays throughout Monday.”
She also said a wide range of measures have been put in place to help EMAS cope during the action, including the postponement of training courses and non-essential meetings and putting clinically trained managers and support staff on to front-line duties.
People suffering a minor illness or injury can gain free advice from their local GP, including out-of-hours, visiting a walk-in or urgent care centre, visiting www.nhs.uk or by calling NHS111.
Meanwhile, midwives at Kettering General Hospital have also walked out this morning, standing outside the Rothwell Road site as part of their industrial action.