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Appointments could still be cancelled even if strikes are called off

Operations and appointments could still be cancelled even if devastating Christmas strikes are called OFF, NHS chief warns

  • Miriam Deakin warned there could be disruption even if strikes are cancelled  
  • NHS Providers’ Ms Deakin said this was due to admin and patient availability 
  • She said trusts would pull out ‘all the stops’ to get appointments reinstated
  • However said this may not be possible if there are ‘very last minute’ call-offs
  • It comes as GMB said 10,000 ambulance workers will strike on December 21 
  • How will NHS strikes affect YOU this Christmas, which hospital trusts are affected and what should you do in an emergency? Vital Q&A 

Operations and appointments could still be postponed even if Christmas strikes are called off, an NHS boss warned today.

Miriam Deakin, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers — which represents hospital trusts across England, claimed disruption was inevitable even if industrial action was averted at the last minute.

Unions today announced the biggest ambulance strike in 30 years, with tens of thousands of members set to walk-out just before Christmas in a move experts fear could risk lives. 

It has been scheduled for December 21, the day after 100,000 nurses are set to walk out of hospitals, including casualty and cancer wards.

Long-awaited operations and appointments could still be postponed even if Christmas strikes are called off, NHS Deputy Chief Executive Miriam Deakin has said 

Miriam Deakin (pictured), Director of Policy and Strategy and Deputy Chief Executive at NHS Providers, said there would still likely be disruption if industrial action was to be cancelled at late notice

Which ambulance services will be affected by the strike?

More than 10,000 ambulance workers will strike in England and Wales on December 21 and 28.

The ambulance strike will hit: 

  • South West Ambulance Service
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance Service
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

What should I do in an emergency?

Unless your emergency is life-threatening, you should avoid calling 999 for an ambulance on the day of the strikes.

You can call 111 instead, where staff can advise you on what to do about your emergency.

If the emergency is serious enough, the 111 operator will direct you to the ambulance service.

However, it is likely 111 will do so less frequently on the strike days than usual.


Ms Deakin today told the Health and Social Care Committee that admin and patients’ own availability could make it difficult to reinstate appointments, after being asked if NHS time would be ‘wasted’ even in the event of a call-off.

She said: ‘I think if the strikes are called off or postponed, as everybody very much hopes they will be, trusts will pull out all the stops to make full use of the capacity they have got returned to them. 

‘They will do their very best to fill this and to get in as many patients through the door.

‘However, if it’s a very last minute call-off then I think you would be correct to assume we would regrettably still see some disruption.’

She added: ‘I just think that will be the practical reality of it in terms of reaching patients, patients’ own availability and the kind of admin and logistics that need go behind getting processes back running.’

Ambulance workers will walk out on December 21 and 28 at nine NHS trusts in England and Wales in the latest strike to hit the Christmas period, the GMB union announced today. 

The strike will see paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff walk out in the ongoing dispute over pay.

Unite and Unison have also said their ambulance workers will walk out on December 21.  

Nurses, porters, healthcare assistants, cleaners and other NHS workers at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and Liverpool University Hospital will also take industrial action on the same day, Unison has announced.

One of the unions orchestrating the unprecedented action — the Royal College of Nursing — has already pledged action on December 15 and 20, which will see 100,000 nurses down tools. 

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said of the ambulance worker strikes: ‘After twelve years of Conservative cuts to the service and their pay packets, NHS staff have had enough.

‘The last thing they want to do is take strike action, but the government has left them with no choice.

The Royal College of Nursing has pledged industrial action on December 20. Now, GMB, Unite and Unisonhave announced strikes for the following day

Official figures show 7.1million people in England were in the queue for routine hospital treatment, such as hip and knee operations, by the end of September — the equivalent of one in eight people (red line). The figure includes more than 400,000 people who have been waiting, often in pain, for over one year (yellow bars)

‘Steve Barclay needs to listen and engage with us about pay. If he can’t talk to us about this most basic workforce issue, what on earth is the Health Secretary for?

‘The Government could stop this strike in a heartbeat – but they need to wake up and start negotiating on pay.’ 

The strikes come as a record 7.1million people in England are on an NHS waiting list for a diagnostic test, treatment or operation.

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