West Midlands Ambulance Service thanks public for over 30% reduction in 999 calls on strike day

Heartlands hospital waiting times
West Midlands Ambulance Service have thanked the public and their staff for the way they handled the day of strike action on Wednesday.

West Midlands Ambulance Service have thanked the public and their staff for their handling of their strike action on Wednesday.

Staff from Unite and GMB took industrial action yesterday (21 December) in a dispute with the Government about pay and the current state of the NHS.

Emergency 999 call numbers were down by 32% as the public listened to the warnings to only call if the patient was in a critical condition or there was a threat to life.

Health leaders warned disruption to the NHS caused by recent strikes is likely to carry on for several days.

NHS Providers also warned about the knock-on impact to appointments which needed to be rescheduled and said they anticipated a return to “very high numbers” of emergency calls.

Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said: "There may be a number of reasons why 999 calls are dropping – hesitancy may be a key factor during the industrial action.

"We want to reassure patients and the public that if they need emergency care, A&Es remain open."

As well as those withdrawing their labour completely, many more worked under agreed derogations that saw crews respond to the most urgent calls, such as cardiac arrests and other very serious cases such as heart attacks, strokes, difficulty in breathing and maternity cases.

GMB members will take more strike action on 28 December. Credit: ITV News

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Thanks to a lot of hard work by union reps, managers and good will from staff, patients were kept safe.

"Our staff acted incredibly professionally in the way they dealt with this very difficult situation.

“We are grateful to the public that they noted our request to use other services such as 111 online, pharmacists and GPs. 

“We would also like to thank the hospitals in the region who were able to turn the vast majority of our ambulances around very quickly, which helped massively.

“The Trust respects the right of trade union members to take such action but thanks them for putting patients first while also taking the opportunity to register your concerns through industrial action.”

GMB members will take more strike action next Wednesday (28 December) but UNITE will not be taking part.