Army steps in! Soldiers seen helping ambulance crews ferry critical patients to hospital


Images have emerged of a soldier helping to deliver critical patients to The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton as ambulance drivers continue to strike for more pay. A British officer was seen helping transport an elderly woman into the hospital alongside a member of ambulance staff.

It has been estimated that around 10,000 ambulance drivers across the country will be on strike over the coming days with just 1,200 soldiers being used to fill the gaps. The walkouts will take place from December 23 to December 26, and then for four more days from December 28 to New Year’s Eve.

This week, NHS leaders have warned that they cannot guarantee the safety of patients while the strikes are taking place. 

Category 1 calls, the most life-threatening health issues, will be responded to. But while some ambulance trusts have agreed with their unions to respond to Category 2 callouts likes strokes and chest pain, other trusts won’t be responding to these. 

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has warned that the NHS is “under severe pressure” as a result of the strikes, meaning the public need to use their “common sense in terms of what activities they do”.

The unions are warning that, without their pay demands being met, the strikes could go on for even longer.

Unite’s Onay Kasab said: “Our members are absolutely determined to win not just the pay battle but to win the battle to save the NHS.”

The Health Secretary has also accused the unions of refusing to guarantee a “national exemption” which would see the most important callouts responded to. 

But Christina McAnea, Unison’s general secretary, responded furiously to this. She said she is “utterly shocked” by the comments and added that local unions have “appropriate plans for their areas”.

Mr Barclay also took aim at the unions while writing in the Telegraph this week. He said that “ambulance unions have taken a conscious choice to inflict harm on patients.”

He also dismissed their pay demands, adding that “further pay increases would mean taking money away from frontline services at a time when we are tackling record waiting lists as a result of the pandemic.”

However, Rachel Harrison of the GMB union branded these comments “insulting”, defending their right to demand better pay amid the cost of living crisis.

She added: “They’ve made a conscious decision to stand up for what they believe is an NHS that is crumbling beneath their feet and as they’re watching thousands of their colleagues leave the service every year because of poor pay and poor working conditions and a feeling of being unable to deliver the safe standards of patient care that they want to.

“That’s why they’re making this conscious decision and it is insulting to say that they’re doing this to put people at risk.”


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