Politics

Steve Barclay urges public to use ‘common sense’ while choosing activities during ambulance driver strike

Ambulance strike to go ahead as talks fail to break deadlock

Steve Barclay has spoken about Wednesday’s (December 21) ambulance strike, and urged the public to use “common sense” throughout the day.

It comes as ambulance drivers stage strike action this week with around 25,000 members of the GMB, Unite, Unison unions taking part in the latest blow to Britain’s stretched health service.

With further strains on the emergency services during the walkouts, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care urged people who pick their activities wisely.

When asked what advice he has for the public by Sky News presenter Kamali Melbourne, Barclay said: “Use their common sense. The system will be under very severe pressure today. The trade unions have refused to give national exemptions in terms of all life threatening and emergency calls.

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“They’ve said that they will prioritise those, but it will be down to local agreements with trusts and indeed some decisions taken with call centres.”

He added: “The system will be under significant pressure. Therefore we’re saying to the public to exercise their common sense in terms of what activities they do. Be mindful that there are those pressures on the system.”

Barclay previously accused trade unions of making a “conscious decision” to “inflict harm” on patients as thousands of ambulance staff walk out on the first of two one-day strikes. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Barclay said: “We now know that the NHS contingency plans will not cover all 999 calls.

“Ambulance unions have made a conscious choice to inflict harm onpatients.”

It comes after the Minister of State at Department of Health and Social Care, Will Quince, was busy doing the media rounds on Tuesday morning (December 20), and he warned the public to avoid unnecessary car journeys and any other “risky activities” during the strike.

Quince also said people should avoid contact sports due to disruption – saying he would not go running on icy roads due to the extra risk of an injury from a fall.

“If there is activity that people are undertaking tomorrow, whether it’s – for example – contact sport, they may want to review that,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “Would I go running tomorrow if it was still icy? No I wouldn’t, because that would encompass additional risk.”

Quince urged the public to avoid anything risky on Wednesday, telling BBC Breakfast: “Where people are planning any risky activity, I would strongly encourage them not to do so because there will be disruption on the day.”

But No 10 would not be drawn on what constituted “risky activity”. Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson told reporters: “I’m not going to get into a list.”

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