OPINION - The Leader podcast: Should I call 999 or 111?

Ambulance workers on the picket line outside Soundwell Ambulance Station in Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)
Ambulance workers on the picket line outside Soundwell Ambulance Station in Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

Paramedics working for London Ambulance Service are on strike for the second time this winter in a bitter pay dispute.

On Wednesday, they were joined on picket lines by 999 call handlers, with LAS saying just 50 per cent of staff and 200 vehicles are serving the capital.

The trust’s chief executive, Daniel Elkeles, urged Londoners to only call 999 during the strike “if it is a life or limb-threatening emergency”, or dial 111 for other urgent health issues.

Unison members were among thousands of paramedics walking out nationwide, with the industrial action in the capital lasting for 12 hours from 11am.

It comes as the Independent reveals the number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E for treatment breaches 50,000 per week with up to one in eight patients enduring “trolley waits”.

The latest industrial action follows talks between health secretary Steve Barclay and unions breaking down, while he urged the public to be “very mindful” of pressure on ambulance services during the strike.

For the latest, the Leader podcast’s joined by Evening Standard health reporter Daniel Keane.

We discuss when to call 999 or 111, the government’s anti-strike bill, staff morale, plans for “virtual wards” and how the ambulance crisis is impacting NHS treatment.

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