Adding to the pressure on emergency services in Lancashire is a paramedics strike.
Members of the GMB union who work for North West Ambulance Service will be walking out on the Saturday day shift. This will be repeated every Saturday until October.
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The union is locked in a bitter dispute with the Trust over pay banding issues that go back 13 years – to when ambulance services in the region merged to form NWAS.
The majority of NWAS paramedics are not members of the GMB union and so far the walk-outs have caused little disruption.
Lisa Ward, interim director of Organisational Development for NWAS, said: “The trust is frustrated with the reluctance of GMB to discuss any movement from their current position. This is despite the positive discussions which have enabled us to reach an agreement on this matter with our other partner trade unions UNISON and Unite, who represent the majority of our staff. We have now also received formal notification that this action will occur every weekend from July 21 until October.
“I am in no doubt that their actions will affect patients although we will be doing all we can to minimise any impact on the public. It is fair to say that the action so far has had little impact on our ability to respond to patients, however, this extended period of action is highly likely to cause some delays, particularly to the less urgent calls. We have robust plans to ensure as much cover as possible throughout the region but we urge the public to help us by only calling 999 for life-threatening or potentially life-threatening emergencies.
“For non-emergency health concerns, alternative care and advice can be found though local pharmacies, GP surgeries, walk-in centres or NHS111.”
Mike Buoey, GMB organiser, said: “Our members are desperate to get this situation resolved – they’ve been waiting a long time for their job to be re-evaluated for the years between 2005 to 2016.
“The last thing we want is ongoing industrial action, yet NWAS seem determined to let the situation continue.”