As thousands of ambulance workers and paramedics go on strike till midnight, several areas of England appear to have seen a decrease in the number of 999 calls.

As ambulance trusts reported receiving fewer calls, the West Midlands Ambulance Trust applauded people for following its advice to only call in an emergency.

Health officials have urged people to still call for an ambulance if they are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, but it is concerned that some people who are in immediate need of assistance won’t dial 999 while the strike is in effect.

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In order to fill in for the striking paramedics, technicians, control centre employees, and other staff hundreds of members of the army, navy, and RAF have been called up.

During the walkouts, all Category 1 calls (those that are the most life-threatening, like cardiac arrest), while certain ambulance trusts have agreed exemptions with unions for some situations within Category 2 (serious conditions, such as stroke or chest pain).

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Dr. Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said: “There may be a number of reasons why 999 calls are dropping – hesitancy may be a key factor during the industrial action.

“We want to reassure patients and the public that if they need emergency care, A&Es remain open.”

Demand is “manageable,” according to the Welsh Ambulance Service, but “any rush of calls would put substantial pressure on our service.”

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East Midlands Ambulance Service stated that it was still too early to comment on how the service was faring.

Up to half of its over 4,000 employees are GMB union members and are striking.

Instead of urgent and emergency treatment services, South Central Ambulance Service claimed that patient transport services in Sussex and Surrey were the main impact of the strikes.

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Regarding how its services were coping, the London Ambulance Service declined to comment.

Meanwhile, a chief executive of a large northern teaching trust told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) it had “so far not (been) as bad as I’d feared in terms of hospital pressures – in fact, (emergency departments) are less pressured than usual.

“We haven’t seen cars/taxis with patients arriving in large numbers but the problem is that much of the risk is not currently visible to us given people will be at home.

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“We therefore expect very busy days on Thursday and Friday.”

This came at the same time as Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, which had been experiencing “extraordinary demands” in its A&E department, declared a critical incident and that it was full.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has stated that he will not budge on pay negotiations and as a result of the deadlock in discussions unions have called this strike action.

Source: Sky News

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