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Rail strikes ‘will kill people’, warns NHS leader

Next week’s rail strikes will ’probably end up killing people’ as they will prevent staff working for already struggling ambulance trusts from getting to work, a senior NHS leader has told HSJ.

Both London Ambulance Service Trust and South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust have moved to ”Reap 4”, This is the highest level of alert, meaning they are under extreme pressure. 

Ambulance trusts are already experiencing high demand amid soaring temperatures and continuing problems with lengthy handovers at the accident and emergency departments. Fears are now growing that next week’s rail strikes will push services to breaking point as many ambulance staff travel to work by public transport.

The three days of rail strikes – on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday next week – will see many lines with very limited services. Tube services in London will also be hit by a strike on Tuesday and the London Overground and some tube lines will be affected on rail strike days. 

A senior leader closely involved in southern England’s emergency and urgent care services told HSJ: “Next week’s rail strikes will probably end up killing people because they’ll prevent ambulance trust staff getting to work.”

Other ambulance trusts are understood to be monitoring the situation closely. Trusts in REAP 4 (REAP stands for resource escalation action plan) normally take a series of measures including diverting more staff to frontline duties, asking some patients to make their own way to hospital and concentrating on reaching the most serious patients.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 16 June 2022


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