Only call 999 for life-threatening emergencies on days of strike action

The North West Ambulance Service is asking the public to call 999 only in life-threatening situations on days affected by industrial action.

The GMB union, Unite and Unison have confirmed their members will take part in strike action on Wednesday, 21 December 2022. GMB members will also strike on Wednesday, 28 December 2022, This is in dispute with the government over pay.

Ambulances will still be available to respond, although they will be prioritised for life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

Typical emergencies include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or allergic reactions and serious head injuries.

If they require hospital treatment, patients should also consider taking alternative transport such as a taxi or getting a lift from family or friends.

Equally, they should use their GP or local pharmacy for help with non-urgent health concerns.

Ged Blezard, Director of Operations, said: “We have tried and tested plans to manage any disruption, including industrial action, however, it’s important to understand there will be an impact on the public.

“We want you to continue to ring 999 if you are in a life-threatening situation. However, we are advising patients, that they should consider other forms of transport if they still need to go to a hospital.

“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.

“Also, if you have already called 999 to request an ambulance, please only call back if your condition has worsened or to cancel the ambulance. Repeatedly calling 999 can block phone lines for other emergencies.

“If you need urgent care – use the symptom checker at NHS 111 Online, which will direct you to the most appropriate support. Again, you should call on friends or relatives for transport if necessary.”

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

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

  • Cheshire and Wirral - 0800 145 6485
  • Merseyside - 0800 145 6570

On days of strike action the Patient Transport Service will only prioritise patients attending cancer, renal and palliative care appointments.