Operations and appointments could still be delayed even if the Christmas strikes are called off, an NHS boss warned today.
Miriam Deakin, deputy general manager of NHS Providers – who represents hospital trusts across England – claimed disruption was inevitable even if union action was averted at the last minute.
Unions today announced the biggest ambulance strike in 30 years, with tens of thousands of members set to leave just before Christmas in a move experts fear could risk lives.
It is scheduled for December 21, the day after 100,000 nurses will leave hospitals, including emergency and cancer departments.
Long overdue surgeries and appointments could still be delayed even if the Christmas strikes are called off, NHS deputy chief Miriam Deakin said.
Miriam Deakin (pictured), director of policy and strategy and deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, said disruption is likely to continue if the union action is canceled too late
How will NHS strikes affect you this Christmas, what hospital trust will be affected and what should you do in an emergency? Essential question and answer
Which ambulance services are affected by the strike?
More than 10,000 ambulance workers will strike in England and Wales on December 21 and 28.
The ambulance strike affects:
- Southwest Ambulance Service
- Southeast Coast Ambulance Service
- Northwest Ambulance Service
- South Central Ambulance Service
- Northeast Ambulance Service
- East Midlands Ambulance Service
- West Midlands Ambulance Service
- Welsh Ambulance Service
- The Yorkshire Ambulance Service
What should I do in case of emergency?
Unless your emergency is life-threatening, you should avoid calling 999 for an ambulance on the day of the strikes.
Instead, you can call 111, where staff can advise you on what to do in your emergency.
If the calamity is serious enough, the 111 operator will refer you to the ambulance service.
However, it is likely that 111 will do this less often than usual on the strike days.
READ MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON THE AMBULANCE STRIKE HERE.
Ms Deakin told the Health and Social Care Committee today that the availability of administration and patients could make it difficult to reinstate appointments, after being asked if NHS time would be ‘wasted’ even in the event of a call.
She said: ‘I think if the strikes are called off or postponed, as everyone is very much hoping, trusts will pull out all the stops to make full use of the capacity they have regained.
“They are going to do their very best to fill this and get as many patients through the door as possible.
“But if it’s a very last minute call, I think you’re right in assuming that unfortunately we’re still going to see some disruption.”
She added: “I just think that’s going to be the practical reality in terms of reaching patients, patients’ own availability and the kind of administration and logistics required to get processes moving again.”
Ambulance staff will walk out on December 21 and 28 at nine NHS trusts across England and Wales in the latest strike over the Christmas period, the GMB union announced today.
The strike will see paramedics, emergency room assistants, call handlers and other staff walk out in the ongoing wage dispute.
Unite and Unison have also said their paramedics will leave on December 21.
Nurses, porters, health assistants, cleaners and other NHS workers at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and Liverpool University Hospital will also take industrial action on the same day, Unison has announced.
One of the unions orchestrating the unprecedented action – the Royal College of Nursing – has already pledged action on December 15-20, which will see 100,000 nurses lose their tools.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said of the ambulance workers’ strikes: ‘After 12 years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packages, NHS workers have had enough.
The last thing they want is to go on strike, but the government leaves them no choice.
The Royal College of Nursing pledged industrial action on December 20. Now GMB, Unite and Unison have announced strikes for the next day
Official figures show that at the end of September 7.1 million people in England were queuing for routine hospital treatment, such as hip and knee surgery – the equivalent of one in eight people (red line). The figure includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting for more than a year, often in pain (yellow bars)
The ambulance strike will hit emergency services across England and Wales for two days
This map shows the hospitals where the Royal College of Nursing will hold its first pay strikes on Thursday 15 and Tuesday 20 December
“Steve Barclay needs to listen to us and talk to us about compensation. If he can’t talk to us about this most basic of personnel issues, then what’s the health secretary for?
“The government could end this strike in an instant, but they need to wake up and start wage negotiations.”
The strikes come as a record 7.1 million people in England are on an NHS waiting list for a diagnostic test, treatment or surgery.