top of page

NI Ambulance Service issues advice as staff set to start 24 hour strike action

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) staff in Northern Ireland will commence strike action beginning tomorrow, Tuesday 21 February 2023, for a period of up to 24 hours.

UNISON, UNITE, NIPSA and GMB Trade Union members will walk out at various times over the next 24 hours.

NIAS and Trade Union representatives have engaged to identify services and roles that will be exempt from strike action, to ensure that a response continues to the most clinically urgent patients, thereby balancing the right to strike with patient safety.

In a statement NIAS said:

"NIAS anticipates that there will be challenges throughout the day and have planned to maintain the safety of those patients whose need is greatest.

"The impact of the action will be felt most on those patients calling NIAS whose need is less clinically urgent. We anticipate that there will be lengthy delays in responding to these categories of calls.

To ensure that we maintain the levels of cover required to respond to the most urgent calls, we would ask the public to call us only in life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding and others. We would also ask that, having placed a 999 call, the public should resist calling back to check on the arrival time of the ambulance.

"The ambulance will arrive at the earliest opportunity and calling back repeatedly can block lines into the Control centre for other emergencies.

"We stress that ambulances will still be available, however, they will be limited and we will prioritise patients with life-threatening injuries or illnesses."

The statement added:

"Callers should not hesitate to call 999 in the case of serious illness or injury, but other callers should consider other options including self-care, seeking GP or Pharmacy advice or presenting themselves to Emergency Departments.

"This day of industrial action will impact all services provided by NIAS including Non-Emergency Transport, Emergency and non-Emergency Control Centres as well as Administration and Support Services.

"NIAS respects the right of our staff who are union members to participate in industrial action. This action is being taken in relation to the national issues of pay and conditions and is a matter for the Government and Trade Unions."

NIAS has issued the following advice to help the service over the period of industrial action:

  • It’s important that you only ring 999 if you or the patient is seriously injured or ill. Ambulances will still be available but will only be able to attend to life-threatening incidents. Other patients will be asked to seek alternative transport, go to their GP or pharmacist, or self-present at ED.

  • During the day of strike action, it is likely that 999 call handlers will be very busy. As a result, we are urging anyone with non-urgent care need to consider other options to calling 999.

  • If you have already called 999 to request an ambulance, please only call back if your condition has worsened or to cancel the ambulance. Repeatedly calling 999 can block phone lines for other emergencies.

What should you call NIAS for?

Typical life threatening emergencies include (but are not exclusive to) cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, severe allergic reactions and serious head injuries.

If you need to call 999, please do not hesitate to do so.


bottom of page