Exclusive GPs in London have again been asked to provide clinical cover during ambulance strikes, as the next walkout is due next week.
NHS England has asked clinical staff to be released to support the London Ambulance Service during a Unison strike expected to take place Friday next week (10 February) – for the second time in less than two months.
A letter sent to ICBs, GP leads and practice managers and seen by Pulse, said that early indications are for the ‘continued escalation of action being taken by unions’ and that there is a need to secure clinical support for the LAS now in order to ‘minimise risk to patient safety on the day of the strike’.
The letter said: ‘We are anticipating further action to be called by Unison on Friday 10 February. LAS would welcome any support from experienced doctors and nurses, who have current acute, urgent or emergency clinical exposure, have some knowledge of the wider UEC system e.g. ED, UTC, SDEC access and can operate as a senior clinical decision maker.
‘Medical practitioners would ideally be from emergency medicine, primary or community care, acute medicine, frailty, paediatrics and mental health.
‘Advanced paramedics, emergency nurse practitioners, advanced care practitioners and experienced UTC or emergency department nurses who have are able to undertake triage and assessment of patients with urgent care or emergency care needs would be very welcome too.
‘In addition, any clinicians with IUC or 111 Clinical Assessment Service experience are also required.’
The letter also said that clinical staff is only expected to volunteer or be released provided there is a ‘safe and sufficient capacity within the system’ and included a link for doctors and nurses willing to provide support to sign up.
Ahead of a strike in December, a similar letter was sent to ICBs asking staff to be released to cover two shifts on the day of the walk-out.
If clinicians have experience of working on LAS ambulances, or provided mutual aid on other strike days, they should indicate this on the volunteering form and will not be required to reattend training, the new letter said.
In February, more than 10,000 ambulance workers have already announced they will join nurses in a combined strike, which is expected to be one of the biggest in the history of the NHS.
GMB announced four more national strike days as paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff will walk out on 6 February, 20 February, 6 March and 20 March.
On the first day of the fresh strikes, they will join tens of thousands of nurses who had already announced industrial action on this date.