AMBULANCE workers have warned the UK Government of an “unprecedented crisis” this winter.
Paramedics from the GMB Union raised their concerns that mounting pressure on the NHS will lead to insurmountable problems, unless action is taken quickly.
Issues highlighted include failures in the health and social care system, the lack of GP appointments and NHS 111 not triaging calls within the one hour deadline.
The paramedics noted that these factors are resulting in unnecessary emergency call outs.
This week, the union balloted tens of thousands of NHS and ambulance workers to take strike action against the ‘miserable pay cut’ they have been offered.
Writing to the Secretary of State Sajid Javid and Chair of the Health Select Committee, Jeremy Hunt, they described the worst pressures they have ever experienced.
The Government’s communication about Covid-19 and what members of the public should or should not be calling an ambulance for were also flagged as a concern.
On top of these, general demands on the service and hospitals have increased, with both growing Covid-19 cases and a backlog of 5.6 million routine treatments.
Steve Rice, Chair of GMB’s National Ambulance Committee, said: “We have serious concerns about the untenable workplace pressures our members are facing in the ambulance service.
“This is not a new reality for workers – as the pressures have been getting worse for a number of winters, over a number of years – but Covid has severely exacerbated it.”
He added: “Our members are telling us the service is now under the worst service pressures they have ever experiences – worse than any previous winter – and do not feel confident things are going to get better as we head from autumn into winter.
“The word is overused, but our members are convinced the ambulance service is facing an utterly unprecedented crisis.
“Unless rapid and serious action is taken, we now feel this winter the problems may become unsurmountable.”
The letter to the Government was co-signed by Steve Rice and Rachel Harrison, GMB’s National Officer.