Important update on EMAS strike action

Further to yesterday’s update on the EMAS and WMAS strike action please see the following additional information and advice for the strike action today:

  • Around 50% of the EMAS workforce are members of the union, so they anticipate fewer ambulances being available throughout the 24/7 period.
  • GPs and patients/relatives/carers need to call 999 for an ambulance only if the situation is an emergency, for example, immediately life-threatening calls or serious conditions such as heart attack or stroke (category 1 and category 2 calls).
  • Support from GPs to use emergency ambulances for emergency scenarios is important. During industrial action, if conditions are not in the life-threatening (cardiac arrest, catastrophic bleed, unconscious) and serious (heart attack, stroke etc) categories, the patient/relative/carer should be advised to seek alternative care, for example, to make their own way via a friend or relative’s car/vehicle or taxi, to an urgent care centre or hospital if they require further assessment and treatment. Or, if the GP surgery isn’t the appropriate place for the patient to receive advice or treatment, they should be advised to use NHS 111 online or their local pharmacy.
  • If a patient calls in having fallen and the usual judgement is that the patient requires an ambulance then the advice is to follow the usual course of action. If that is to call an ambulance then each will be taken on their clinical merits within the agreed derogations with GMB members, so if a call falls out of those derogations, EMAS will look to utilise other crews; however, this will still be part of the clinical prioritised response, and there will be some delays. EMAS may also reassess, for example if it is initially a Category 3 but clinically reassessed this would allow for upgrade to a Category 2 or Category 1 if required. EMAS are increasing the number clinical decision makers in their EOC for the period of the action.
  • The potential for GPs to use alternative transport arrangements (such as a local taxi service) to send people to hospital if they decide that is required, and for the costs of this to be refunded has been carefully considered. However, this has been deemed to present a level of risk for patients which cannot be mitigated. Where patients are advised to attend a hospital via non usual route we ask that the risk/benefit is considered and this be recorded in the patient notes. Patients should be advised of the risks and benefits of using a non-usual route.
  • EMAS request that as a system we reduce HCP referrals and non-urgent inter-facility transfers, to allow them to focus on responding to patients waiting in the community for a response to a life-threatening or serious condition. NHS colleagues are asked not to give estimated times of arrival for ambulances to help manage patient expectations and allow them to make decisions re alternative transport and care.
  • EMAS will have senior clinicians including doctors in their control centre to aid the assessment and triage of patients, so ambulance dispatch will continue to be based on the priority determined by the clinical condition.

The overall request from EMAS is to use ambulance resources wisely to ensure that vehicles with life-saving equipment and clinicians on board are available to respond to patients in the community who most need them.