Bath Voice News: GMB confirm ambulance workers’ strike in campaign for improved pay and conditions

By Harry Mottram: Bath’s ambulance workers are staging a strike today as members of the GMU trade union in their campaign for improved pay and conditions.

They will now join almost 10,000 ambulance workers across England on strike on Monday, 20 February, 2023.

Exemptions had been agreed with the union to ensure YAS can respond to life-threatening cases.

Nick Smith, the ambulance service’s executive director of operations, told the BBC: “Ambulances will still be able to respond during the strike, but this will only be where there is an immediate risk to life.”

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging the public to use 999 appropriately during Monday’s industrial action and to only call if it is a life-threatening or life-altering emergency.

In a statement the SWASFT said: “On days where there is strike action, people should continue to call 999 if there is a medical or mental health emergency [when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk]. Ambulances will be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is the most immediate risk to life. Where the situation is not life-threatening, people should seek alternative support through NHS 111 online or through calling NHS 111, and where possible, it is advised that members of the public arrange alternative transport if they need to visit a healthcare facility.

While the NHS remains open to anyone that needs it, there are some things people can do ahead of and during the upcoming industrial action to help ensure services can care for everyone who needs it, including having enough medication in stock, both prescription and self-care.

Will Warrender, Chief Executive of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “If you are waiting for an ambulance, please do not call back asking for an estimated time of arrival. We cannot provide this information and it blocks our lines for other callers.”

This is from the SWASFT: Which service should I access?

  • Self-care – visit online for self-care advice for things like grazed knees, coughs and colds
  • Pharmacy – visit your local pharmacy for headaches, upset stomachs, aches and pains
  • NHS 111 – visit online or call 111 for advice and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • GP – call your GP for symptoms that won’t go away
  • Minor injuries unit – attend your local minor injuries unit for urgent not life threatening conditions and injuries such as sprains, fractures and burns
  • 999 – call 999 for life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, severe allergic reactions, suspected stroke and serious head injuries.

Rachel Harrison, the GMB union’s national secretary, said: “Ministers seem to think GMB members will be fobbed off by pretending this year’s cost of living crisis hasn’t happened. They are wrong. The government could easily get these strikes suspended, so why are they leaving NHS workers and the public to suffer?”

The GMB said the Government need to negotiate and offer a decent pay rise.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I have held constructive talks with the trade unions on pay and affordability and continue to urge them to call off the strikes. It is time for the trade unions to look forward and engage in a constructive dialogue.”

The GMB trade union (General, Municipal, and Boilermakers) has 460,000 members who are in most sectors, in retail, security, schools, distribution, the utilities, social care, NHS, ambulance service and local government. It dates back to 1889 and has merged with many other unions over the years.

The photo is from the BBC.

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