PARAMEDICS in south Devon are taking industrial action again today as part of their ongoing dispute over pay and staffing levels.
Members of the GMB union in the south west are joining colleagues across the country and members of the Unite union taking action today.
The GMB says more than 11,000 members including paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff, will walk out nationally.
GMB members from South West Ambulance Service are involved.
There were no pickets outside Newton Abbot’s ambulance station this morning and a single vehicle was seen.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national secretary, said: ‘GMB’s ambulance workers are angry. In their own words ‘they are done’.
‘Our message to the Government is clear - talk pay now.
‘Ministers have made things worse by demonising the ambulance workers who provided life and limb cover on strike days - playing political games with their scaremongering.
‘The only way to solve this dispute is a proper pay offer.
‘In the face of government inaction, we are left with no choice but industrial action.
‘GMB ambulance workers are determined, they’re not going to back down.
‘It’s up for this Government to get serious on pay. We are waiting.’
South West Ambulance Service is again urging the public to use the 999 service ‘appropriately’ and to only call if it is a life-threatening or life-altering emergency.
The trust says on days where there is strike action, people should continue to call 999 if there is a medical or mental health emergency, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Ambulances will be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is the most immediate risk to life.
Where the situation is not life-threatening, people should seek alternative support through NHS 111 online or by calling NHS 111, and where possible, members of the public arrange alternative transport if they need to visit a healthcare facility.
While the NHS remains open to anyone that needs it, there are some things people can do ahead of and during the upcoming industrial action to help ensure services can care for everyone who needs it, including having enough medication in stock, both prescription and self-care.
Will Warrender, chief executive of the SWAST said: ‘As we look ahead to Monday's industrial action, we are again asking for your support, because we absolutely must have crews available for the most life-threatening conditions, and we will be prioritising these patients first.
‘This means there will be other patients waiting for an ambulance, and we will get to them as soon as we can. We are sorry that we may be unable to respond to them as quickly as we would like.
‘If you are waiting for an ambulance, please do not call back asking for an estimated time of arrival.
‘We cannot provide this information and it blocks our lines for other callers.
“You should also be aware that less serious, non-life-threatening incidents may not receive a response for the duration of any strike.’