The grandmother of a two-week-old baby boy who struggled to breathe during a five-hour wait for an ambulance has said "lives are at risk" amid ongoing NHS strikes.
Relatives have described how their loved ones have waited hours for treatment in recent days as ambulance workers, paramedics, technicians, call handlers and other NHS staff have walked out in action that will continue to affect non-life-threatening calls on Wednesday.
Former GP receptionist Deb Robinson, 53, said her son and his partner called 111 at 6pm on Tuesday and were told their newborn, struggling with his breathing and coughing, needed an ambulance.
The parents of the baby, who remains in A&E waiting on a bed, were forced to rush him to the hospital themselves at 11pm but would have brought him over sooner had they known the wait was going to be so long.
"(They are) still in A&E as there are nine other minors waiting for a bed. He is on oxygen, he has bronchiolitis,” Ms Robinson, from Derby, told the PA news agency on Wednesday afternoon.
"A tiny baby needing oxygen being delayed by a few hours.
"I do sympathise, I do, I know not all wanted to strike – but lives are at risk."
Ms Robinson adds: "It’s a good job his breathing didn’t worsen or his cough get worse… I don’t have the answers (but) if everyone cares as much for patients as they say they do I can’t understand why they physically strike and remove themselves from their positions."
While the baby remains on oxygen, Ms Robinson also explained that her 78-year-old father, set to have hip replacement surgery on December 20 after three years on the waiting list, had the operation cancelled a few days beforehand due to the nurse strikes in north Wales.
"He is in a lot of pain and takes so much pain relief just to get by at home," Ms Robinson added.
"My dad is a very proud man who at times has held three jobs… (He) worked outside all of his life until he had to retire.
"(There is) no new date, it is stressful as I live away."
Ms Robinson said: "I know (NHS staff) have an awful lot of responsibilities and yes they should be paid accordingly but I’m not sure striking is right."
"I don’t know the answer, all I know is a 78-year-old man and a two-week-old baby were affected and that’s just my family."
But a psychotherapist from Harrow, London, said the ambulance strikes "have to happen" to stop the NHS from being run "to the ground" after her elderly mother waited seven hours for medical treatment while bleeding heavily from her head on Friday.
Komal, 51, who did not want to provide her last name, said her 78-year-old mother had a bad fall, "gashed her head open" and was unable to get up off the floor.
"We waited three hours for (an) ambulance and four hours in the ambulance at Ealing Hospital," Komal said.
"There were no cubicles available and other ambulances in front of us, or (higher) priority cases… But essentially she wasn’t treated for seven hours after a head injury.
"The hospital was old, dilapidated… I hadn’t eaten that evening, so needed food and water, but the vending machines were not working, so I couldn’t get sustenance but neither could (the) paramedics.
"These guys save lives, that’s what they are trained to do."
'I've attended elderly patients who have been on the floor with broken hips for over 20 hours', a paramedic has said
"This cataclysmic Government are stopping them from doing their jobs safely (and) the strikes have to happen, it’s the only way to get the message across as this Government does not care about our health or wellbeing, or people dying – they have run our brilliant NHS to the ground."
Paramedics across the country have maintained that patients’ lives have been at risk "long before" strike action was taken, including a paramedic based in Nottinghamshire.
Tom, 33, who also did not want to give his last name, has worked with East Midlands Ambulance Service for five years and said he would be striking on Wednesday if he was on duty.
"I’ve attended elderly patients who have been on the floor with broken hips for over 20 hours," he said.
"They’ve been waiting that long that their limbs have started to become necrotic (dying tissue), resulting in major surgery to remove said limbs.
"In 14 hours I saw and attended one patient of my own and did not have a break… And there were, at one point, 11 ambulances stuck at (the) hospital unable to be freed back on to the road.
"The conditions we work in on a regular basis don’t enable us to do the job we want to do to its full capacity and is putting patients’ lives at risk long before strikes were even considered…
"We regularly go 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 hours without a break or even so much as a brew or any warm food, or food at all, due to these delays.
"The ambulance service striking is one that has very little bearing on the grand scheme of things but hopefully has a big influence on highlighting the already failing NHS we so desperately need to treasure and invest in."
East Midlands Ambulance Service said it was too early to say how the service was coping.
Its advice to the public remained to only call 999 if there was a risk to life or if somebody was seriously ill or injured.
The trust said it had agreed exemptions with the union for staff to either attend category 1 calls or category 1 calls and the most serious category 2 calls such as chest pain, strokes, gynaecology emergencies where mother or baby are at risk, road traffic collisions where a patient is trapped, and unwell children aged five and under.