Thousands of ambulance workers across the country, including the South West, are set to walk out in a dispute over pay next week and in the next two months, after unions announced strike action by paramedics and 999 call handlers.

The latest action, following strikes earlier this month and last December will take place on Wednesday January 23 by Unison. A further four dates announced by GMB (listed below) are in February and March.

Unison has said its action - which will involve five NHS ambulance trusts including South West Ambulance Service - will involve all ambulance employees, including call handlers, not just the 999 response crews as was the case during the first ambulance strike in December.  

More than 10,000 workers in the GMB union will walk out across nine trusts on Monday, February 6 and Monday, February 20 and Monday March 6 and Monday March 20 in England and Wales: South West Ambulance Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, North West Ambulance Service, South Central Ambulance Service, North East Ambulance Service, East Midlands Ambulance Service, West Midlands Ambulance Service, Welsh Ambulance Service and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Ambulance crews working for five services in England represented by Unison will also go out on strike. These include South West Ambulance Service as well as London, Yorkshire, the North West, the North East and South West Ambulance Service.

The union voted for strike action over the government’s four per cent pay award amid soaring inflation, which currently stands at 11 per cent.

The NHS has warned that elderly patients who fall at home face being left without an ambulance as they are unlikely to be included in the 'life and limb' cover that will be provided during the action.

Individual NHS trusts have agreed local criteria on what cases strikers will still respond to, despite being on picket lines, and these are the more critical cases.

Meanwhile, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned that the strikes will result in severely ill patients having to take themselves to A&E.

It is expected that ambulance workers will respond to the most life-threatening conditions classed as category 1, including heart attacks or sepsis.

Some ambulance trusts have also agreed exemptions with unions within category 2, which covers conditions such as suspected strokes. However, most conditions within categories 2 to 4 will not covered.