When are the ambulance strikes 2023? Dates and areas of industrial action

Soldiers from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers last month (PA)
Soldiers from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers last month (PA)

Unite has announced new strike days in January, February and March among ambulance workers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which will coincide with walkouts by workers from the GMB union.

Continuing pay disputes have meant that on February 6, the two unions will be joined by nurses in what is set to be the biggest walkout since the dispute began.

Find out below where and when ambulance workers are set to strike and what to do if you require emergency help.

When are the new strike days?

  • Thursday, January 26 – GMB workers striking in Northern Ireland;

  • Monday, February 6 – Unite and GMB ambulance workers and nurses striking in the North-East, North-West, West Midlands and Wales;

  • Thursday, February 16 – GMB workers striking in Northern Ireland;

  • Friday, February 17 – strikes in West Midlands and Northern Ireland;

  • Monday, February 20 – Unite and GMB workers striking in the North-East, East Midlands and Wales;

  • Wednesday, February 22 – GMB workers striking in the North-West;

  • Thursday, February 23 – GMB workers striking in Northern Ireland;

  • Friday, February 24 – GMB workers striking in Northern Ireland;

  • Monday, March 6 – Unite and GMB workers striking in the North-East, North-West, East Midlands, West Midlands and Wales;

  • Monday, March 20 – Unite and GMB workers striking in North-East, North-West, East Midlands, West Midlands and Wales.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham spoke to the BBC in the Political Thinking podcast and said: “People are dying as we speak because of waiting times and the clogging up of the NHS.”

She added that staff were “fighting for the NHS” with workers ensuring “proper minimum cover because that is something that’s really important to us”.

Ambulance Strike | January 2023

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What if I have a GP appointment on a strike day?

People with an appointment have been advised to attend it as normal. However, some local NHS providers will be in contact if it needs to be rescheduled.

The NHS has also asked anyone attending appointments or hospitals to use services wisely.

“People can help by taking sensible steps to keep themselves and others safe during this period and not ending up in A&E — whether that is drinking responsibly or checking up on a family member of neighbour who may be particularly vulnerable to make sure they are OK,” said NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis.

“NHS staff have worked hard to minimise disruption but it is inevitable as with any industrial action that we will see an impact on services but it is vital if you need lifesaving care to continue to come forward.”

Ambulance Strike | December 2022

Ambulance workers take to the picket line outside the Headquarters as strike action by ambulance workers begins (Getty Images)
Ambulance workers take to the picket line outside the Headquarters as strike action by ambulance workers begins (Getty Images)
Ambulances parked outside the West Midlands Ambulance Service headquarters in Coventry, as paramedics, ambulance technicians and call handlers walk out in England and Wales, in a strike co-ordinated by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions over pay and conditions that will affect non-life threatening calls. (PA)
Ambulances parked outside the West Midlands Ambulance Service headquarters in Coventry, as paramedics, ambulance technicians and call handlers walk out in England and Wales, in a strike co-ordinated by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions over pay and conditions that will affect non-life threatening calls. (PA)
Ambulance workers on the picket line outside ambulance headquarters in Coventry, as paramedics, ambulance technicians and call handlers walk out in England and Wales, in a strike co-ordinated by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions over pay and conditions that will affect non-life threatening calls. (PA)
Ambulance workers on the picket line outside ambulance headquarters in Coventry, as paramedics, ambulance technicians and call handlers walk out in England and Wales, in a strike co-ordinated by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions over pay and conditions that will affect non-life threatening calls. (PA)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)
Ambulances parked outside the West Midlands Ambulance Service headquarters in Coventry, as paramedics, ambulance technicians and call handlers walk out in England and Wales, in a strike co-ordinated by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions over pay and conditions that will affect non-life threatening calls. (PA)
Ambulances parked outside the West Midlands Ambulance Service headquarters in Coventry, as paramedics, ambulance technicians and call handlers walk out in England and Wales, in a strike co-ordinated by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions over pay and conditions that will affect non-life threatening calls. (PA)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)
Military personnel from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers (PA)
Military personnel from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers (PA)
Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham (centre), joins ambulance workers on the picket line outside ambulance headquarters in Coventry (PA Wire)
Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham (centre), joins ambulance workers on the picket line outside ambulance headquarters in Coventry (PA Wire)
Military personnel from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers (PA)
Military personnel from the Household Division take part in ambulance driver training at Wellington Barracks in London, as they prepare to provide cover for ambulance workers (PA)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)
Soldiers preparing for the Ambulance Strike at the Wellington Barracks (Jeremy Selwyn)

What happens if I call 999 on strike days?

There are staff available to answer emergency calls, but incidents will be categorised by their importance.

Category 1 calls are classified as the most life-threatening situations, with ambulances being called out.

However, conditions that are serious but not deemed life-threatening might not be immediately attended to by emergency teams. In these cases, clinicians are available to answer 999 calls and will judge for themselves their severity.

Category 2 calls have been agreed to have exemptions with unions for specific incidents with some ambulance trusts available to help.

Category 3 calls, which include urgent problems such as late-stage labour, will not be prioritised.

Situations deemed as not life-threatening, which include a fall, will probably not receive 999 care. NHS trusts are advising people to use their own transport or a taxi to get to the hospital.

Will the army help with emergency services during strike action?

The Government has announced that the Army, RAF and Royal Navy will be deployed across the country to alleviate the strikes’ consequences. For example, 600 members of the armed forces will help transport patients to hospitals if they are perceived to be less serious cases. Meanwhile, 150 personnel will provide logistics support.

Community first responders will also be used to help to manage the demand for medical care.