Cumbria health officials warn of disruption ahead of NHS strikes in England

Credit: PA

Health officials are urging the public to use health services 'appropriately' during industrial action by NHS staff in England - saying they expect 'significant' disruption.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) at NHS organisations across Lancashire and South Cumbria will be take industrial action on the same day as Unite and GMB members of the North West Ambulance Service on Monday 6 February.

Nursing strikes will continue on Tuesday 7 February. Ambulance staff who are members of Unison will take part in further industrial action on Friday 10 February.

Dr David Levy, medical director at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, says plans are in place to reduce the risks to patient safety but disruption is expected.

He said: "We ask people to use services wisely during industrial action and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to those who need it most. This includes using NHS 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

"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 industrial action, with the NHS prioritising those with life-threatening needs.

"If your conditions are not life-threatening you are unlikely to get an ambulance on strike days. Not all hospitals are impacted, but please check your local services for information about any disruption."

Members of the North West Ambulance Service staff will take part in industrial action on the following dates in February:

  • Monday 6 February - Unite and GMB members only

  • Friday 10 February - Unison members only

  • Thursday 16 February - GMB members only

  • Monday 20 February - GMB members only

  • Wednesday 22 February - Unite members only

Industrial action by Royal College of Nursing members is planned on Monday and Tuesday 6 and 7 February, with impact expected the following organisations:

  • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTH)

  • North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS)

Patients will be contacted if their planned procedures need to be rearranged but those who have not been contacted should attend their appointment as planned.

Local NHS services will also keep their websites and social media accounts up-to-date with information about local service disruption - so please check before you travel.

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

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