UK strikes: Military will not drive ambulances in Wales
Wales’ health minister has said she was “hopeful” ambulances would get to the most serious calls when paramedics plan to strike on Wednesday.
Eluned Morgan said red category life-threatening calls would be prioritised but people “need to consider” pressure on other calls “will be even greater”. The Welsh Ambulance Service said it has been experiencing high call demand as a result of the icy weather. It has called on people to only dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
The UK government has made arrangements to deploy 1,200 members of the military and 1,000 civil servants in England during Wednesday’s strike.
Ms Morgan said the army had a role to play but soldiers would not be driving ambulances in Wales.
“We will not be using the army to transport people, but we are going to be using the army for logistics,” she told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement.
“That is making sure we use the capacity we do have to its maximum effect.
“We have discussed that with trade unions and they seem to be comfortable with that particular use of the services.”
Ms Morgan said NHS Wales would be “under immense” pressure this week with separate action by ambulance workers and a nurses’ strike on 22 December.
Asked if she was confident people in with red category calls would get an ambulance during the strike, Ms Morgan said: “We’re hopeful they will if they are in that category on Wednesday.
“But that means the pressure on those not in that category will be even greater, that’s something people need to consider.
“And, obviously, it’s important that people seek clinical advice.”
She said people calling the NHS Wales 111 advice line and the 999 service would be directed to the most appropriate help.
“And there will be occasions when you’ll be encouraged to try and get yourself to hospital if it is genuinely difficult and not that life-threatening situation,” she said.
The Welsh Ambulance Service recorded its worst-ever performance in October, latest figures have shown, responding to less than half of red category calls within eight minutes.
Some 10,000 ambulance staff are striking across most of Wales and England on 21 December in a dispute over pay.
In other news – 1,200 troops to cover for ambulances and Border Force
About 1,200 members of the military and 1,000 civil servants are to be drafted in to cover for striking ambulance and Border Force staff over Christmas.
The government say the personnel will plug staffing gaps and keep front-line services running. Learn more