Industrial action by three trade unions took place at East Midlands Ambulance Service this week.
The national pay dispute saw GMB members at EMAS take strike action over a 26-hour period, from 06.00 hours on Monday 6 February until 08.00 hours on Tuesday 7 February.
Unite trade union members carried out a 24-hour period of strike action from 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Monday 6 February, while RCN trade union members held two 12-hour periods of strike action on Monday 6 February and Tuesday 7 February.
EMAS said in an update:
‘Unlike on previous strike days, demand on our service remained high across these days; we responded to 25% more incidents compared to the last strike day (on 11 January 2023).
‘An incident is defined as a call that creates a job on the system.
‘However, we may not send an ambulance to respond if there is a more appropriate response for the patient, or alternatively, the 999 call received may have been a duplicate call for an incident which we are already aware of.’
‘We are grateful to all our system partners and colleagues across the NHS who worked hard behind the scenes to maintain patient safety. This included minimising hospital handover delays and supporting lower acuity patients by providing alternative pathways.
‘We would like to take this opportunity thank everyone who continues to access NHS services wisely to enable us to focus on responding to patients who need us most, especially during periods of industrial action.’
Ben Holdaway, EMAS Director of Operations, said: “We would like to urge members of the public to continue to seek the most appropriate service for their healthcare needs – whether that is through your pharmacy, your local GP, urgent treatment centre or using NHS 111 online.
“This allows us to continue sending our limited numbers of available ambulances to patients whose lives are at immediate risk and who require the life-saving clinicians and equipment on board our vehicles.
“This is particularly important during strike days when we have fewer ambulance crews available to respond to emergency patients in the East Midlands.
“People should only call 999 of there is a risk to life, eg cardiac arrest, unconscious or catastrophic bleed, or if seriously ill or injured eg stoke or a serious traumatic injury. Ambulances will be sent to patients where clinically appropriate, eg where the life-saving equipment and skills of the clinicians on board are required.
“We will continue to work with trade union colleagues closely to keep patients safe in any future periods of industrial action and continue to fully respect the right of NHS staff to take lawful and peaceful action. However, we are urging national employer representatives and trade union colleagues to proactively engage and reach a negotiated settlement to the dispute as quickly as possible.”