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Urgent call for help as ambulance trust faces relying on ‘first aiders’ during strikes

Published on: 13 Dec 2022

Medics and nurses have been urgently called upon to support London Ambulance Service during next week’s strike action, as it will otherwise have to rely on staff only able to provide ‘first aid’.

The North East London primary care team has sent out a request for clinical staff working for integrated care boards to be released from duties ahead of industrial action on 21 December.

Unison members are preparing to walk out, alongside thousands of other staff at nine other ambulance trusts across the country, in a dispute over pay.

They will be joined by GMB Union and Unite members, with staff including call handlers, paramedics and other 999 crew personnel. GMB Union members also set to strike on 28 December.

The letter, seen by HSJ, was sent yesterday afternoon. It said: “LAS are keen to have experienced medics and nurses, who have current urgent and emergency clinical exposure, have knowledge of how to navigate the system and can operate as a senior clinical decision maker. Medical Practitioners would ideally be from general practice and emergency medicine.

“Advanced paramedics and advanced care practitioners with urgent care or [integrated urgent care clinical assessment service] experience are also required. 

“A knowledge of ambulance services is preferred as it removes the need to learn very quickly the significant differences in ambulance services and LAS control rooms.

However, it adds “Contingency ambulance crews will consist of two members of staff from a partner agency to operate the vehicle, as well as an individual able to provide basic medical care (first aid).

“All staff working on ambulances will be required to attend a half day’s training session to familiarise them with the vehicles and equipment they will be working with, as well as being fully briefed on what is expected of them.”

The letter continued that shifts will last from 12pm to 6pm, or from 6am to 12am, but adds that staff who can provide support between 12am to 12pm are also welcome.

LAS has been approached for comment.

The news comes as nurses are set to take strike action on 15 and 20 December, after the Royal College of Nursing announced it had met the threshold at 130 NHS organisations in England.

This includes 104 provider trusts.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy also announced staff at 112 organisations in the country now have a mandate for strike action after 84 per cent of members who voted said yes to strike action.

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Midwives confirmed it had not met the turnout threshold required of 50 per cent to strike in England, despite 88 per cent of those voting having supported it.

The law requires a turnout of at least 50 per cent, with 40 per cent of those eligible supporting industrial action.

Earlier this year, the government announced a pay award that averaged to around £1,400 for most NHS staff on the Agenda for Change framework, but this was met with anger and dismay as it was significantly below current levels of inflation.

The Department of Health and Social Care has said further Agenda for Change pay increases would “mean taking money away from frontline services and reducing the 7.2 million elective backlog”.