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10 January 2023

London Ambulance Strike on 23 January - Advice

We need to take steps to use the right NHS service for the right situation and ensure that ambulances are used solely for emergencies

When to call 999


National industrial action is set to take place from 11.00 to 23.00  on 23 January. This will include staff who work on ambulances and other response vehicles, as well as staff in Emergency Operation Centres, where 999 calls are answered and ambulances are dispatched.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) which covers Luton and Bedfordshire last week stood down their business continuity incident declared on 28 December. Whilst they are not striking, they remain under huge pressure and delays with handovers at hospitals remain a significant challenge.  

Expected Impact
In London, on the day of industrial action, there will be fewer ambulances on the roads. NHS call centres will prioritise those with life-threatening needs. As a result patients whose conditions are not life-threatening are unlikely to get an ambulance.

Where the situation is not life-threatening, alternative support will be available through NHS111 online or through NHS 111, and where possible, it is advised that patients arrange alternative transport to hospital.

Only Call 999 in a Serious Medical or Mental Health Emergency
The NHS is asking the public to only call 999 in a serious medical or mental health emergency, which is when someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life is at risk. This includes unconsciousness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe loss of blood and choking. This applies to ELFT staff too.

If it is urgent, but it is not a serious medical emergency, we ask patients to consider other options such as:

  • Going online to NHS 111 online for urgent medical worries. This should also be their first port of call if they are unsure what to do.
  • Contacting their GP. GP services are not impacted by this strike action.
  • Using a local pharmacy to get advice on medicines or common problems like coughs, colds and rashes.

Going to an urgent treatment centre if they need urgent medical attention, but it’s isn't a life-threatening situation. Conditions that can be treated at an urgent treatment centre (also known as a walk-in centre or minor injury unit) include sprains, suspected broken limbs, cuts and grazes and minor scalds and burns.

More information from the NHS on where to get medical help can be found here