December 21: Who’s on strike today and how will it affect you? –

Another day closer to Christmas, another day of strikes in a December full of industrial action which will continue into the New Year.
Thousands of paramedics, ambulance technicians, call handlers and other staff are walking out today.
NHS leaders have urged people not to get drunk and end up needing emergency care amid serious concern they are unable to keep people safe during the strike.
Health minister Will Quince also warned the public to think twice about ‘risky activity’, such as contact sports and running on icy roads
Elsewhere, driving examiners are on their ninth consecutive day of industrial action in a dispute over pay, pensions, jobs and redundancy terms.
But this is the first time some 10,000 ambulance staff across England and Wales are joining the current wave of industrial action amid workers across the country.
Trade union Unite says the action is a ‘stark warning’ to the Government that it must stem the crisis engulfing the NHS following ministers’ ‘deliberate 12-year assault on pay’.
Unite is one of three trade unions, along with Unison and GMB, taking part in the industrial action with GMB members walking out again on December 28.
Any ambulance trust expected to be affected today has been told to draw up a ‘detailed mitigation plan’ by NHS England.
Calls requesting an ambulance are split into categories, with category 1 being the most life-threatening, such as cardiac arrest, while category 2 covers conditions like stroke, heart attack and sepsis.
Unite leader Sharon Graham said cover would be provided for most serious calls.
‘The unions have agreed to provide cover tomorrow for life-threatening emergencies (category 1 cases) and serious cases like heart attack and stroke (category 2 cases).
‘That has been agreed at a host of local NHS trusts.’
She accused the Government of ‘misleading the public on this and at worst deliberately scaremongering’ through suggestions that many serious calls would have no response.
Any ambulance trust expected to be affected today has been told to draw up a ‘detailed mitigation plan’ by NHS England.
The national department has suggested trusts consider using the military to transport patients with less urgent conditions and using St John Ambulance and Community First responders.
Some may even look at using taxis to get less critically ill people to and from hospitals.
A leaked internal memo from North West Ambulance Service says those suffering cardiac arrests and ‘immediate threats to life’ will continue to receive an emergency response.
Paramedics will attend confirmed maternity emergencies – but the document warns of ‘a significant and noticeable difference in the way we operate’ otherwise.
Patients from walk-in centres, urgent treatment centres, care homes and assisted living settings will not be transferred to A&E, unless in the case of immediate cardiac arrest or a threat to a person’s life.
NWAS’ Patient Transport Service will only prioritise patients going to cancer, renal and palliative care appointments.
Bosses are concerned that they will encounter operational challenges for a further 48 hours and have reportedly advised staff to prepare for 72 hours of disruption.
Around 600 armed personnel – including those from the Army, Navy and RAF – will drive vehicles, and another 150 will give ‘logistical support’.
Troops are also expected to be drafted in on Wednesday next week when the second ambulance strike is held.
The Welsh government confirmed that it would not use the military to drive ambulances.
Junior health minister Will Quince urged people to stay safe today, telling BBC Breakfast he would ‘strongly advise people not to plan any risky activity because there will be disruption to emergency services’.
But he also added: ‘The key thing is for anybody that does have an emergency situation or a life-threatening situation that they continue to call 999 as they would have done previously, and for any other situation, NHS 111 or NHS 111 online.’
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