Skip to content

UPDATE 11.45am – Industrial action places pressure on Service

To be attributed to Deputy Director of Operations Jason Killens:

“More people are dialing 999 today than normal which is adding to the considerable pressure we are already under. Londoners should use us wisely and should only call for an ambulance in a genuine emergency.

“Around 73 per cent of staff are working in the control room answering calls and dispatching ambulances, and about 58 per cent of staff are either working as normal responding to patients or providing emergency cover.

“To help us provide a safe service, we are prioritising our response so that our most seriously ill and injured patients get help quickly, but some people, who are not in a life-threatening condition, will have to wait longer than normal for an ambulance response.

“Our staff will answer all 999 calls, but some patients with minor illnesses or injuries – such as back pain, upset stomachs or small cuts and bruises – will not receive an ambulance response. Instead, they will be given advice on how to look after themselves or told where else to seek help.

“We recognise the right of staff to take part in the industrial action over the Government’s proposed pension reforms, and will continue to work closely with unions to enable us to reach our most seriously ill and injured patients as quickly as possible.

 “People should only dial 999 in a genuine emergency. For all other healthcare needs, there are a range of services available: you can get help or advice from your local pharmacist or GP, visit a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre or even make your own way to hospital – going in an ambulance does not mean you will be seen any quicker.”

– Ends –

Notes to editors

  • Some of our staff taking part in industrial action and responding to patients are providing ‘emergency cover’.
  • Emergency cover is the level of service that unions and the Service have agreed staff working in frontline roles can provide while still supporting industrial action.
  • Under the emergency cover arrangements agreed with unions, staff who work on the road treating patients will only respond to the most seriously ill and injured patients and will not go to patients with minor conditions such as upset stomachs or cuts and bruises.
  • Staff who work in the control room will still answer 999 calls and dispatch ambulances, but their duties will be limited so they will not carry out a number of administrative functions such as recording turnaround times at hospitals.
  • Our patient transport service that takes people to hospital appointments will operate a reduced service. The only journeys to go ahead as normal will be those for high-dependency patients such as those needing dialysis or cancer care.

For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7783 2286.

Find out more about the London Ambulance Service at or follow us on Twitter at