The ambulance staff strike next week represents a far higher risk to patient safety and services than the nurses’ strike, but a blanket elective ban will only be used as “an absolute last resort”, a senior NHS England director said today.
However, NHSE elective recovery chief Sir Jim Mackey’s comments come despite several local leaders telling HSJ significant amounts of elective activity are likely to need to be postponed due to the ambulance staff walkout on 21 and 28 December, to free up capacity to deal with emergency care pressure.
Speaking at a King’s Fund conference this morning, Sir Jim said: “The ambulance strike is a completely different order of magnitude of risk [than the nurses’ strike]. I think that’s the main thing people are worried about because of the complexity and fragility of urgent care.”
However, he added: “If we were to give [national guidance on what elective activity to cancel] today, the only guidance we could give would be to cancel absolutely everything, and that’s really not going to help anybody…
“I think we’ll just have to take it day-by-day and keep learning from each other and sharing intelligence… and then, if at some point, there is a case for blanket order, we’ll consider that… But, we really want to do that as an absolute last resort.”
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Source: HSJ, 15 December 2022