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NHS England asks GPs to provide clinical cover during ambulance strike

NHS England asks GPs to provide clinical cover during ambulance strike

GPs in London have been asked to provide clinical cover for ambulance staff during strike action due to take place next week.

A letter from NHS England has asked that clinical staff be released to support the London Ambulance Service during the Unison strike on 21 December.

GP Online has reported that similar requests are understood to have been sent elsewhere in the country.

In the ‘urgent request’ seen by Pulse and sent to GP practices, PCN leads and GP Federations, GPs as well as advanced paramedics or others with urgent care experience are being asked to cover two shifts on the day of strikes.

It states: ‘I am writing to request clinical staff are released from ICBs to support the London Ambulance Service on the Unison strike day of 21st December 2022.

‘This is an urgent request due to the level of expected strike action by Unison staff. LAS have requested mutual aid on the 21st of December between the hours of 12pm – 12am in order to be able to minimise risk to patient safety on the day of the strike.’

The letter continues: ‘LAS are keen to have experienced medics and nurses, who have current urgent and emergency clinical exposure, have knowledge of how to navigate the system and can operate as a senior clinical decision maker.

‘Medical Practitioners would ideally be from General Practice and Emergency Medicine. Advanced Paramedics and Advanced Care Practitioners with urgent care or IUC CAS experience are also required.

‘A knowledge of ambulance services is preferred as it removes the need to learn very quickly the significant differences in ambulance services and LAS control rooms.’

Anyone redeployed to help work on ambulances during the strikes would receive half a day of training, the letter said.

And clinicians working in the operations centre of clinical hub would be briefed before starting their shift.

The letter included a link for doctors and nurses willing to provide cover to sign up.

GPs have previously expressed support for upcoming industrial action, with nurses due to walk out on the 15 and 20 December.

Last week Pulse reported that LMC leaders have voted in favour of the BMA balloting GP members on industrial or collective action if no ‘meaningful’ contract changes are agreed in 2023/24 or 2024 onwards.

Dr David Mummery, a GP in West London and co-vice chair of Hammersmith and Fulham LMC, said: ‘GP practices are already completely inundated with clinical demand with the current Strep A concerns amongst others, are getting huge numbers e-consultations, and are struggling to meet the demands of their practice populations.

‘So the idea of “releasing staff” in an already crisis situation regarding clinical demand in primary care may be a bit far-fetched.’



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Turn out The Lights 14 December, 2022 10:28 am

Two fingered salute from me.Support these guys to the hilt,especially after the last decade or more of this pay freezing shower.

Peter Clayton 14 December, 2022 11:18 am

That would make us scabs

Iain Chalmers 14 December, 2022 11:31 am

Maybe only those with estate cars should respond? Borrow defib from work, put seats down, hands free mobile for communication, easily fit 2 patients. Insurance & flashing blue light might be tricky??

Didn’t Top Gear try this once, seem to recall slight teething problems.

It would be funny if wasn’t do f*****gly stupid & pathetic.

Kevlar Cardie 14 December, 2022 11:49 am

More chance of me p****** in the Pope’s slippers than doing this.

No one likes a scab.

David Jarvis 14 December, 2022 2:27 pm

That is a no. Why does NHS England think we would help them out of their own and the Govts mess. They have shown frank disregard for all working clinical staff and the well of goodwill has been drained dry. The fact they have the brass neck to even ask shows some rather interesting personality type. One that shouldn’t be managing any type of service.

q b 14 December, 2022 2:44 pm

well well well…its a great idea to grab paramedics and chuck them into primary care, right?
its a great idea to cut off the outflow from hospitals to ensure bedblockers mean that ambulances cant offload, right?

oh, those lazy GPs can step in cant they -!


Cameron Wilson 14 December, 2022 6:27 pm

All just part of the game! Gives the papers something to write about, gives politicians something to witter on about in front of the cameras when all along everyone knows there’s not one iota of chance that anything is going to happen.

Patrufini Duffy 14 December, 2022 6:33 pm

I saw this email too. No mention that you won’t get sued for helping out. No mention of money or a lunch break. Dentists are free, email them or their hygeinist.

Northern Trainer 14 December, 2022 7:37 pm

I was about to jump in and help but my useful BMA fees have been wisely spent to proffer advice ….. Glad they’re not busy sorting out the pensions/contracts crisis!

Lucy Marchand 14 December, 2022 9:35 pm

Good luck with that! Already been doing their job as well as being a GP today when I had to drive my patient with central chest pain to A&E thank to a no show from the ambulance still 90 mins AFTER the surgery had shut

Slobber Dog 14 December, 2022 10:31 pm

I knew the pickup truck would come in useful one day.

David jenkins 15 December, 2022 1:48 am

not a f*cking hope.

sorry can’t help out with this charity work – i’m too busy welding my car (to offset the fees our local garage charge !!)

Ian Jacobs 15 December, 2022 7:41 am

Revealing how desperate HMG and DoH – they have invited Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear Team ( minus Freddie Flintoff of course ) and Lewis Hamilton to become ambulance drivers for the day . Absolutely no training for THEM required – except to know where the blue flashing lift switch is. May hem.

Dylan Summers 15 December, 2022 8:44 am

What a well thought through plan – because there clearly won’t be any issue with GP capacity on those days will there?

Ian Jacobs 15 December, 2022 9:02 am

Quite apart from the principles – the logistics and practicalities of what is proposed look like a very poor investment.

For a full time GP doing ? 9 surgeries a week . Half a day’s training . At least half a day’s working . Probably half a day off following the shifts completed ( NB it will be hard to leave the shift if there is obvious work that still needs doing by the end of it)

Likely outcomes: I predict that Weds 21st will end up being a quiet to very quiet day. There will be the ” usual ” acute emergencies – MI’s, strokes, acute breathing difficulties, some RTA’s ( affected very much by the weather that day ) . But A&E attendances will be low, the vulnerable will be extra vigilant in avoiding risky behaviour ( eg going out ) etc etc. Mind you- the 22nd may be super busy to compensate.

Interesting to see how the media and politicians spin this ( if I am correct and demand is low on the day.?

David jenkins 15 December, 2022 10:26 am

anyone remember the last ambulance strike ?

where the number of overdoses dropped by 90%.

Faen Faen 15 December, 2022 1:44 pm

I love reading the above comments 🙂 I can’t imagine a single GP that will take up this offer, amongst the other things, completely undermine the unenviable decision taken by paramedics to strike (fully behind them).

Patrufini Duffy 16 December, 2022 4:35 pm

There are enough NHS managers and DoH management consultants sitting at home, who can drive a van semi-straight. Their altruism would be good CPD and self-healing and reflection of real life on the high-street, with people. Actual people.

C Ovid 17 December, 2022 9:03 am

In case they haven’t noticed, we are BUSY ALREADY! DoH would do well to stop regarding General Practice as a home for would be hospital Drs who like nothing more than cancelling their “trivial and pointless day job” to be real clinicians for the day. P**s off. We can say to DoH, as Bomber Harris said after Dresden (a very sad event) : “they started it”.

Truth Finder 19 December, 2022 1:58 pm

How about the pen pushing idiot who gave the advice actually do something useful and follow his own advice. We have our own work to do which actually help patients unlike some pretentious bureaucrat. Take us private BMA and cut these c r * p.

John Charlton 19 December, 2022 9:05 pm

I thought PCTs were daft, CCGs dafter but ICBs even dafter still.
Their understanding of what is happening in the NHS beggers belief.

David Turner 20 December, 2022 11:47 am

Maybe they could insert broom handles between our glutei maximi and we could sweep the floor while we go along.

Kevlar Cardie 20 December, 2022 1:49 pm

@David Turner:

Sure. No problem.

Make sure the broomwood is sourced from an ethical forest.

Do remember that you’ll be sent for re-education if you use lube from a tube, rather than a sachet as per the latest missive from Die InfektionKontrolKriminalPolizei.

(or is it der or das ?).

Kevlar Cardie 20 December, 2022 1:57 pm

My most recent comment has been taken down.

I would like to apologise

I in no way meant to harm the reputations of the noble callings of sex workers, money traffickers, drug dealers, organised criminals and the current occupants of the London Zoo Reptile house by perhaps drawing a too close comparison to Conservative Party MPs.