When are the strikes taking place in February?
This Monday (6th) and Tuesday (7th), nurses at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (all hospitals) will go on strike.
For the first time this year, Royal College of Nursing members at a number of NHS organisations across Greater Manchester plan to join strike action on the same day as Unite and GMB members of North West Ambulance Service.
Ambulance workers from the GMB and Unite Unions affecting North West Ambulance Service will be taking industrial action on Monday (6th), with further strikes planned by staff from Unison union on Friday (10th). A number of additional days of industrial action are planned for the rest of February and in March. You can find more information here.
Physiotherapists from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust are striking on Thursday (9th). Physios have agreed to staff life and limb critical services, which are mainly critical care and emergency on-call respiratory (breathing) services with most other services and appointments affected.
How and where do I get help and support when needed?
Anyone not facing an emergency who cannot wait to speak to a GP can find the best options for their needs via NHS 111 Online at 111.nhs.uk in the first instance, unless the issue concerns a child under 5, when they should call 111. Lots of illnesses can also be managed safely at home, or with a trip to a local pharmacist.
The NHS in Greater Manchester is asking people across Greater Manchester to only call 999 or go to an emergency department if it is a medical or mental health emergency, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Staff working at GP surgeries, community pharmacies, and dentistry are not on strike and the public should continue to access these services as needed on strike days and attend all appointments unless contacted.
Ambulances will still be able to respond during the strike, but this will only be where there is an immediate risk to life. Less serious calls may have to wait longer than usual for an ambulance and some people might be asked to make their own way to hospital, where it is safe for them to so.
Derogations, known as exemptions, provided to a member or service from taking part in strike action are made between employers and unions to ensure both safe staffing levels and which services are exempt from strike action. Some services may be cancelled to maintain staffing levels.
How has the NHS prepared?
The NHS will continue to do everything it can to go ahead with planned procedures – especially for patients in greatest clinical need – and will contact you if an appointment needs to be rescheduled. If you have not been contacted, please attend your appointment as planned.
NHS Greater Manchester, like partners nationally, has been preparing extensively for industrial action and for winter, with plans in place to manage additional demand including more beds, better help for people returning home who still need some care support, and additional capacity for GP appointments.
Locally, a system of mutual aid and support between hospitals and also ambulance sites are in place, diverts agreed between different hospitals and an additional push to discharge people who are well enough to leave hospital.
Individual NHS services will also keep their websites and social media accounts up to date with information about local service disruption – so please check before you travel.
Silas Nicholls, chief executive, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and co-chair of Greater Manchester’s System Operational Response Taskforce said:
“The NHS in Greater Manchester is working extremely hard to keep services running and to keep people safe during industrial action taking place this month and next.
“While strikes will cause inevitable disruption to services, local NHS teams have tried to maintain as many appointments as possible, so it is important people attend appointments as planned unless they have been contacted for it to be rearranged.
“Regardless of any industrial action taking place, it is important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.
“During previous strikes, the public responded as we’d asked them to and used our emergency services appropriately for very serious and life-threatening incidents. We are once again asking people to use NHS services wisely and to carefully consider whether they need our services now, especially as the impact of the industrial action will be felt across the NHS.”