NHS workers responded to emergencies quicker on a strike day than they usually would, new data suggests.

In the pursuit of a pay rise that meets inflation and concerns over burnout and patient safety, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and call handlers are once again going on strike today (Tuesday, January 24).

With GMB and Unison members re-joining the picket line across the borough, NHS data suggests that ambulance response times actually improved on the previous strike day on Wednesday, January 11.

The procedure for NHS staff was to only send ambulances for life-threatening injuries and illnesses, while asking the public to only call 999 in emergencies of this kind. 

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Leigh Journal: Workers are striking over pay disputes and concerns over patient safetyWorkers are striking over pay disputes and concerns over patient safety (Image: Newsquest)


Fewer ambulances yet quicker response times

NHS data shows that far fewer ambulances arrived at Wrightington, Wigan, and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust on Wednesday, January 11.

37 ambulances are recorded to have arrived at hospitals across the borough, compared to 57 ambulances on a regular work day.

Despite having a day of strike action, 36% of the 393 ambulances arriving at the borough's hospitals were delayed by at least 30 minutes in the week to January 15, down from 43% the week before.

This follows the national trend as 23% of ambulance patients in England waited at least 30 minutes to be handed to A&E, down from 36% the previous week and the lowest level so far this winter.

On the strike day across hospitals in England, ambulance handover delays improved as 6% of arrivals waited longer than an hour, compared to 9% across the rest of the week.

Leigh Journal: North West NHS workers on strike on Wednesday, January 11North West NHS workers on strike on Wednesday, January 11 (Image: Newsquest)

Figures highlight NHS is 'broken'

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said: "This Government has left our NHS so broken that performance actually improved on strike day. 

“GMB members agreed safety levels with each and every ambulance trust - then they dropped everything and left the picket lines to save lives. 

“Instead of praising them, this Government has demonised them and pushed through a fresh attack on workers' rights. 

"They are scaremongering and playing political games- they need to talk pay now.”

Further strikes planned

The Government's current offer to NHS workers is an average pay rise of 4.75% – well below current inflation levels of 10.5%.

As demands are not being met, unions have scheduled further strikes for emergency service workers in the North West on February 6 as well as March 6 and March 20.

Paramedics and EMTs will continue to attend the most serious 999 calls to ensure patient safety is maintained.

UNISON Regional Organiser Lizanne Devonport said: "Patient safety is paramount to UNISON members taking strike action, as it is every day that they are in work.

"They will be answering emergency calls where there is a threat to life and limb and we have worked with NWAS to ensure systems are in place to call workers in from picket lines to do this.

"There will be fewer ambulances, certainly, but from previous strikes, we also know there will be far fewer calls to 999 requesting ambulances for transport to a&e.

"There has been talks with the government- but talks will only go so far until they are backed by a real pay offer for NHS staff. Until then, we will see further strike action. "