Army personnel will step into the breach to help drive London's ambulances during Monday's public sector workers' strike, it's been announced.
NHS workers belonging to the Unison union, including a number of London Ambulance Service (LAS) staff, will strike for four hours from 7am in an ongoing dispute over pay. A further ban on overtime for ambulance service workers will take place from 14-17 October. An LAS press release last week said:
Patients in a life-threatening situation will still get an ambulance response but people with injuries such as minor breaks, women in routine labour, some patients with breathing difficulties or those involved in minor road traffic accidents will be given clinical advice, provided with alternative transport or told to make their own way to hospital.
So basically, don't expect to get rushed to hospital on Monday if you trip over a paving stone. In addition to drivers from the Army, Navy and RAF, police vans will be used to transport patients to hospital. LAS director of operations Jason Killens said:
"We are expecting a significant number of our staff to take four hours of strike action. However, people who need an ambulance response, but are not in a life-threatening situation, should expect to wait longer or may not get an ambulance at all.
“During the strike action we will have paramedics and doctors in our control room who will carry out an enhanced assessment of patients to make sure we target our response to those who need us most.”
Public sector workers across the country, including 500,000 NHS workers will strike on Monday over pay and conditions. On Tuesday, local government workers and teachers planned to strike but this has been called off. On Wednesday, around 250,000 civil servants, including Westminster government staff will also strike. The Evening Standard reported last week that increasing numbers of paramedics are leaving the London Ambulance Service over lack of resources and workload.
This is probably a good time to remind Londoners not to call 999 unless it's absolutely necessary. Don't be that person.
Photo by psyxjaw in the Londonist Flickr pool.