The health secretary said people need to use “common sense” about what to do on Wednesday during strikes by paramedics in England and Wales.
Steve Barclay asked on Times Radio whether citizens should change their behavior to avoid ambulance calls.
“While we will focus on life-threatening incidents and ensure that they are addressed, the rest of the system will be strained. I’m just there.
“Of course, if it’s really life-threatening, they should call 999.”
He was speaking as up to 25,000 ambulance workers in England and Wales, including call handlers, went on strike Wednesday in a dispute with the government over wages.
Barclay said he was “concerned” about the level of medical services provided Wednesday as paramedics went on strike for the second time, accusing the ambulance union of not providing a minimum service. .
He confirmed that the most urgent life-threatening calls, called Category 1, would be handled, but the union did not provide an “absolutely comprehensive” plan to cover Category 2 calls. We urged caution as this may be escalated to an emergency call.
Trade unions dismissed the government’s claim that they were not providing the minimum standard of service during the strike as a “lie”.
Barclay said the government’s anti-strike law aims to make contingency planning less difficult, and said the new law would not target individual health care workers, but “union action”. The measure could lead to the layoffs of striking staff, and Barclay denied that people could lose their jobs if the law went into effect. refused.
He told Sky News: Calls were being received as to what arrangements would be made in terms of local coverage of the minimum safety levels to be installed as ambulance unions refused to do so at the national level. ”
Striking emergency workers on Wednesday promised to delay the strike throughout the day so as not to affect medical services.
All ambulance employees, including call handlers, will walk away Wednesday in a dispute over wages, but none will stand in the picket line for more than 12 hours, the Unison union has confirmed. Some people only leave the office for six hours at a time.