Information for the public on ambulance strike action

Posted on: Tuesday 20 Dec 2022

We are working hard to keep patients safe during strikes, while delivering the best care possible, and patients should continue to attend appointments as planned unless contacted to reschedule. Nobody should put off seeking urgent or emergency care during the strikes, with key services continuing to operate.

Yorkshire Ambulance Strike Action on Wednesday 28 December 2022 has been postponed – further updates will follow.

Ambulance strike action

During this time our hospitals will remain open to provide care for patients who require treatment.

The safety of our patients is our utmost priority and we have contingency plans in place to minimise any impact industrial action will have. For instance, additional staff will be on duty in our Emergency Department on these days to manage any increase in walk-in attendances for those people unable to travel to hospital by ambulance. We also have alternative arrangements in place to help manage the discharge of patients who are unable to make their own travel arrangements so that they can leave our hospital in a timely manner.

Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

When to call 999

In an emergency (serious or life threatening condition), please continue to call 999 and you will be advised if an ambulance will respond or the most appropriate action to take.

There will be fewer ambulances on the roads during industrial action, with the NHS prioritising those with life-threatening needs. As a result patients whose conditions are not life-threatening may not get an ambulance on strike days.

When to contact NHS111 online or call NHS 111

Where the situation is not life-threatening, alternative support will be available through NHS111 online or through calling NHS 111. NHS 111 call centres will have fewer staff, with longer call response times expected across the system. As a result, we are urging anyone with non-urgent care needs to first seek help from NHS 111 online.

For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, please visit the NHS UK website.

If you have an appointment

If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned. We will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action and will re-arrange any postponed appointments as a priority. We appreciate this situation is frustrating for patients affected and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

If you are or a member of your family are due to attend hospital services on Wednesday 28 December by hospital transport and are able to make alternative arrangements then this will help support the ambulance service in providing emergency care.

Frequently Asked Questions From NHS England

What is happening?

Trade unions representing NHS staff are in dispute with the government over the 2022/23 pay award. A number of the unions have balloted their NHS members to take part in industrial action. As a result,

  • Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) went on strike on 15 and 20 December 2022 (however strike action did not take place at HDFT).
  • Members of the GMB, Unite and Unison (ambulance staff) went on strike on 21 December 2022.
  • Members of GMB (ambulance staff) were planning to strike on 28 December 2022, however this has been postponed.

The NHS wants to see a resolution as soon as possible, but pay is a matter for the government and the trade unions. Read more information about the strikes at NHS briefing: Industrial action winter 2022.

What if I need urgent or emergency care?

Anyone who needs urgent care should use NHS111 online or call NHS 111 to be assessed and directed to the right care for themWhen someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should seek emergency care in the normal way, by calling 999 or attending A&E.

What if I have an appointment on a strike day?

Everyone who has an appointment should attend as planned, unless your local NHS provider has contacted you to reschedule. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment even if your Trust is affected by strikes.

Will emergency care be affected on strike days?

Emergency care will continue to be available across all parts of the country. It is really important that in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or their life is at risk patients continue to come forward as normal.

I have a loved one who will be a hospital inpatient on strike day – how will their care be affected?

All hospital inpatients will be informed of how their care will be impacted on a ward-by-ward basis by the staff involved in delivering their care.

Will GP services be affected on strike days?

GP services will be running as normal on strike days. Please continue to attend scheduled GP appointments.

When will I find out if my appointment is rescheduled?

The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action. This is likely to be a text, phone call or a letter, and you should be offered an alternative date for your appointment. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.

If my appointment is rescheduled, will I be put back to the bottom of the waiting list?

Any appointments that need to be rescheduled will be done so as a priority.

Is there anything I should do now?

No, the NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action.

Should I cancel my appointment on the day of strikes?

No, if we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.

What should I do if I need an ambulance?

On strike days, patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.

For all other health care needs support will be available through NHS 111 online, via the NHS 111 helpline or at your local GP or pharmacy.

The NHS.UK website has more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E.

What is considered an emergency?

Patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.

How long will services be impacted?

The ambulance strike on 21 and 28 December 2022 will last for 24 hours. However patients should be aware that it may take slightly longer for services to return to normal.