NHS in Sussex sets out advice for patients and the public during ambulance industrial action

December 21, 2022


Our Colleagues at NHS Sussex have asked us to share the following details which set out advice for patients and the public during ambulance industrial action

“It has been announced that ambulance service staff across the country are taking industrial action today, Wednesday 21 December 2022.

The planned ambulance action is being led by the three main ambulance unions – Unison, GMB and Unite where the legal thresholds have been met by both the union and the organisation. Further action is then planned by GMB union members on 28 December, again where legal thresholds have been met.

It has been confirmed that South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), our emergency ambulance and NHS 111 provider, is taking industrial action, and so is South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), the provider of non-urgent emergency transport in Sussex.

The formal notice for strike action for 21 December is from 06:00 to 23:59, and then on 28 December from 00:01 to 23:59.

Regardless of any strike action taking place, patients who need urgent medical care will be prioritised, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

On days where there is strike action, you 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.

There will be fewer ambulances on the roads during the industrial action and it is likely 999 call handlers will be very busy, but the NHS will be prioritising those with life-threatening needs.

As a result patients whose conditions are not life-threatening are likely to have very long waits for an ambulance on strike days.

NHS 111 call centres will also have fewer staff, with longer call response times expected across the system.

SCAS have confirmed that their patient transport service in Sussex will continue to be honoured, although it is expected there will also be less transport available.

Whilst other health and care services will be operating as normal we would ask you to use services responsibly as we are expecting the NHS to be very busy.

The NHS is 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.

  • If you need NHS treatment and there is an immediate threat to life you should continue to call 999.
  • However, if you need urgent care but it isn’t life threatening, please “think 111 first”.

You can access it online – www.111.nhs.uk 

  • Your local Pharmacist is also an expert in medicines who can help you with minor health concerns. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. Find your nearest open pharmacy. If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need.

Dedicated information for women and people using maternity services in Sussex

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