NHS staff have said they will continue to respond to ‘life-threatening’ emergencies but have claimed other ‘less serious calls’ may experience delays as part of the strike action on Thursday January 29.
NHS workers are planning a mass walkout across the South East this week as part of an ongoing pay dispute.
UNISON South East members are taking action in the form of a 12 hour (9am-9pm) strike after the government rejected a one per cent pay rise for NHS staff.
The government refused the pay rise after it was recommended to be approved by the independent pay review body; they also claim most staff will be denied a pay increase in 2015/16.
Plans to combat the strike have been laid out across with the South East which include increasing the ability to provide clinical advice in Emergency Operations Centres and increasing the support from volunteer community first responders.
A spokesperson for South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) said: “SECAmb has been working closely with its union representatives ahead of the planned industrial action on Thursday (29 January), which is on national rather than local issues.
“In previous industrial action on this issue the vast majority of our staff, while supporting the strike, continued to provide ‘life and limb’ cover for the most serious calls.
“We will continue to respond to life-threatening emergencies but other less serious calls may experience delays. With this in mind we are asking the public for their help by remembering that 999 should only be used in an emergency.
“While we expect the day to be challenging, we have robust contingency plans in place to ensure we can provide a safe and responsive service to those people who need us.
“These include increasing our ability to provide clinical advice in our Emergency Operations Centres, utilising our own response capable managers and increasing the support available from our volunteer community first responders.
“We will continue to be in close talks with union representatives to ensure that the impact on patients is kept to a minimum and thank the public for their ongoing support.”