NHS leaders are urging local people ahead of tomorrow’s industrial action by Ambulance Service workers to only access A&E or 999 if their condition is life threatening or very serious.

Whilst the NHS locally is making plans to minimise disruption as far as they can, they have warned that the latest strike will pose substantial challenges. The highest priority will be to care for those in most immediate and urgent need.

On Wednesday, life threatening calls and other very serious conditions that may require urgent assessment will continue to be responded to, but other calls will have to be prioritised accordingly with longer waits expected.

This week’s strike also includes other ambulance service workers, including call handlers and some workers will be taking industrial action across a 24 hour period.

NHS leaders have warned that local NHS services, including hospitals, are already under intense pressure due in large part to a rise in seasonal illness, COVID-19 and related staffing pressures.

Ahead of industrial action this week, local people are being urged in the strongest possible terms to keep 999 and A&E clear for life-threatening conditions and very serious injuries.

Patients who have a planned hospital operation, procedure or outpatient appointment this week should attend as usual unless they hear from their NHS Trust to advise otherwise.

One Gloucestershire health and care partners are working to free up as much bed and ward capacity as possible and to ensure the best possible arrangements are in place to receive ambulances and support patients to leave hospital when medically fit in the coming days.

This is however against the backdrop of a large rise in seasonal illness and sick patients who need specialist care. Many of these patients will have complex needs.

The local NHS Trusts are asking relatives and carers to do everything they can to work with their staff to get their loved ones home from hospital as quickly and as safely as possible, with additional support if necessary, from local NHS community services or adult social care teams.

Chief Medical Officer at NHS Gloucestershire, Dr Andy Seymour said:

“One Gloucestershire health and care partners are working closely together to ensure those in greatest need continue to have access to high quality care this week.

However, we need to be very clear that the coming days are going to be incredibly challenging for those providing care and we are going to need the public’s full support as well.

If it’s not a life threatening condition or a serious injury, we are urging people to think very carefully about their healthcare options and get advice when needed from NHS 111 and ASAP Glos NHS. Advice will also be available through local NHS social media channels.”

Getting healthcare advice:

Many parts of the NHS – hospitals, community services and GP practices – are likely to feel the impact of industrial action – either directly or indirectly.

If people have an urgent care need, but are not sure which service to use, they are asked to visit 111.nhs.uk in the first instance or call 111 for advice. The 111 phone service can book people into local NHS services if required, but is likely to see an increase in calls.

The local ASAP Glos NHS website and App can also guide people through their care options and signpost to the right service for them. This includes information on community pharmacy, GP surgery services, including the Gloucester Health Access Centre and Community Minor Injury and Illness Units.

A number of Community Minor Injury and Illness Units across the county will be open on the day – 8am to 8pm. People are more likely to be seen more quickly on arrival if they book an appointment by calling the local MIIU line: 0300 421 7777 or 111.

People can get the latest service updates and advice ahead of the strike and on the day through local NHS social media channels.

Further public information about the Industrial Action, including FAQs, has been published by NHS England and can be found here.