Patients could be forced to use TAXIS to get to hospital when ambulance workers strike this Thursday
PATIENTS suffering a medical emergency could be ferried to hospital by TAXI when ambulance workers go on strike this Thursday.
Ministers are planning for cabbies to take over from paramedics in less serious medical cases as the ambulance service will be severely under staffed.
Around 10,000 emergency responders are set to strike in a major dispute over pay.
Paramedics, 999 call handlers and emergency care assistants are among those walking out.
British troops are currently being trained to help drive ambulance cars and answer calls in their place.
The 600 military personell won’t be permitted to run red lights or drive on the wrong side of the road.
And in some cases taxi drivers may need to step in to transport patients to hospital when not enough ambulance cars are available.
Speaking in the Commons today Health Minister Will Quince said: “On the days of ambulance strike action it’s likely that category 1 and category 2 calls, where there is an immediate threat to life, will be responded to.
“We are looking at ways in which we can provide additional support for category 3 and category 4, including things like block-booking taxis and things like support through community healthcare and local authorities and community support.”
Meanwhile, Steve Barclay meet with the Royal College of Nursing union today in a last ditch attempt to save the NHS from crippling strike action.
Up to 100,000 nurses are set to walk out this Thursday and the following Tuesday.
Union members are striking over pay after asking for an inflation-busting hike of 19 per cent.
In the latest round of negotiations, the government offered a backdated 5 per cent pay rise this year and 4 per cent from January.
But the union rejected the offer.
Both the Tories and Labour have described the RCN’s demand as untenable and unaffordable.
This weekend nursing union chief Pat Cullen pledged to halt industrial action if Mr Barclay meets her for a one-to-one pay chat.
The offer was originally snubbed, but today the minister changed his mind and agreed to a discussion.
Sources told The Sun that Mr Barclay’s position on pay, which is determined by an independent pay review body, hasn’t changed.
Up to 15,000 operations are expected to be cancelled this week because of the nurses strike.
It comes as ambulance workers are set to walk out next Wednesday and the Wednesday after.
And as rail workers, posties, and border force staff are all staging rolling industrial action too – wrecking Christmas parties and travel plans and clobbering businesses.
Speaking in the Commons chamber today, Health Minister Will Quince said: “We are all hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, so we deeply regret that some union members have voted for industrial action.
“Our priority must be to keep patients safe. That begins with keeping the door open.
“We’re working with the NHS to minimise disruption if the strikes do go again.”
If talks fail and the strike does go ahead, the government has advised patients to continue to call 999 as normal in an emergency.
Brits suffering from a non-life threatening condition should still use NHS 111.
Ambulances will continue responding to 999 calls and if patients have an appointment they should still turn up unless they’ve been advised not to do so.
If there’s a shortage of emergency response vehicles taxis could be used to ferry patients to hospital.
Mr Quince added: “We remain deeply concerned about the risk strikes pose to patients. But even at this moment of uncertainty people must keep coming forward to get the care they need.