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NHS industrial action and how it might affect you

Trade unions representing NHS staff are currently 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) are striking on 18 and 19 January 2023 and on 6 and 7 February, and members of the GMB and UNISONand Unite (ambulance staff) are striking on 23 January 2023. Members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy are striking on 26 January and 9 February.

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

Unless the NHS has contacted you, please attend any appointments as planned.

Please note: GP services are not impacted by this strike action so you can continue to attend as arranged unless you are contacted and told otherwise.

The NHS is asking patients to use services wisely during industrial action and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most.

This includes using 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

Patients should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency (when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk).

Ambulances will still be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is an immediate risk to life. Patients should take advice from 111/999 call-handlers on whether there are circumstances where it is suitable for them to make their own way to hospital.

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.

During strike days, there is an expectation that 999 services will be exempt. However, it is likely 999 call handlers will be very busy.

NHS 111 call centres will have fewer staff, with longer call response times expected across the system. As a result, anyone with non-urgent care needs to first seek help from NHS 111 online.

The NHS is also asking the public to play their part by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after themselves, loved ones and checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.

Posted on Jan 18, 2023.

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