'Expect long delays': North East NHS leaders warn of 'significant impact' of strike action

Credit: PA

NHS leaders are urging the public to only call 999 in life-threatening emergencies as the North East prepares for industrial action by nurses and ambulance staff.

Tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance staff in England will walk out on Monday 6 February in an ongoing dispute over pay.

Staff from the North East Ambulance Service who are members of the GMB and Unite unions will take industrial action. It falls on the same day that members of the Royal College of Nursing will also walk out.

Nurses will strike again on Tuesday and a further ambulance worker strike is scheduled for Friday.

Five NHS trusts in the region will be affected by the nursing strike:

  • Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust

  • Gateshead Health Foundation Trust

  • Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

  • County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

  • South Tees Hospitals

Emergency and urgent care centres will remain open during the strikes but patients are being warned to expect significant disruption

Dr Neil O'Brien executive medical director, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board said: "It is going to be another challenging few days with more services across the region affected.

"We have plans in place to ensure the safety of those patients who may need our help in an emergency, and we are putting into practice all that worked well from the previous industrial action. However, patients should expect long delays at a time when services continue to be under significant pressure."

People are being urged to only call 999 in situations where someone is seriously ill or injured.

For non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, they should use 111.nhs.uk or contact a local community pharmacist or GP practice.

Patients with scheduled appointments should still attend unless they are contacted by the NHS. Any postponed appointments will be re-arranged as a priority.

Stephen Segasby, from the North East Ambulance Service, said: "As with the other periods of action, we are putting contingencies in place to maximise our available resources.

"However, we are expecting a significant impact on our services over a 48-hour period, which will limit our ability to respond to patients who are not at immediate threat of losing a life or limb.

"We ask that the public continue to consider which is the best service for their needs and only pick up the phone in a life or limb threatening emergency."

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