London Ambulance Service is advising Londoners to plan ahead and expect long delays during a 24-hour NHS strike on Thursday (29 January). If the strike goes ahead it will be longer than on previous occasions and so will be much more disruptive.

The Service is issuing advice to people on regular medication, those who have long- term illnesses and older people for the period of industrial action which starts at 00.01am on Thursday. It is asking friends and family of vulnerable people to make arrangements to support their relative, friend or neighbour. Either to take them to hospital or use other healthcare options such as Urgent Care Centres, pharmacies, their GP and NHS 111.

The Service is expecting to be under considerable pressure during the strike and the disruption will continue on Friday (30 January) as the Service works hard to return to normal operating.

Chief Executive Dr Fionna Moore said: “We will only be able to send an ambulance response to the most seriously ill and injured patients. That’s why we’re advising:

• If you are feeling unwell before Thursday 29 January do not to wait to get help, but to seek advice from your GP or pharmacist beforehand.
• If you have a long-term or chronic condition and you are feeling unwell on Thursday 29 January, try not to be alone if you think you may need support to either get to hospital or to access other healthcare options.
• If you have regular medication – please make sure you have collected your prescription from the GP, have been to the pharmacist to collect it and have it to hand.
• If you are under the care of a community health team, make sure that you have their contact numbers to hand.
• If you are in the late stages of pregnancy please check any arrangements you have made with friends or family to ensure that they can take you to hospital should you go into labour this Thursday, as we will not be able to send an ambulance.”

Dr Moore added: “Those looking after vulnerable groups – such as older people, children and people with long-term conditions – should be prepared to make alternative arrangements to get medical help or transport those in their care to hospital.”

This third period of industrial action is more significant than previous strikes because it is for 24-hours rather than four. This means that, as well as lengthy delays, some people will not get an ambulance response if they are not in an immediately life-threatening condition.

Dr Moore said: “We will be unable to send an ambulance response to some patients with broken bones, some older people who may have fallen and cannot get up and some people in road traffic collisions where their life is not immediately at risk. We’d encourage Londoners to plan ahead, be sensible about their activities and be prepared should they need medical help on Thursday.”

Londoners are advised to contact other healthcare providers instead of calling 999 – such as visiting their pharmacist, Urgent Care Centre or GP, calling NHS 111 or making their own way to an emergency department if they need urgent treatment.

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