Thousands of ambulance workers across the UK are to walk out today in fresh strikes following the rejection of the latest pay offer by unions.
Widespread disruption is expected as more than 11,000 members of the both the GMB and Unite unions at seven of the 10 ambulance service trusts in England – including in the North West – are, once again, staging strike action for 24-hours today, which means fewer ambulances on the road and fewer call handlers answering 999 calls.
On top of this, ambulance dispatchers and drivers in our Patient Transport Service will also be going on strike today.
As there continues to be unrest in many industries and sectors of the economy nationwide, the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has issued a statement explaining which calls its services will be “prioritised” during the industrial action today.
“We need the public to only call 999 in life-threatening emergencies to ensure resources are available for the patients who really need us,” the NWAS said in its appeal.
“To be clear, ambulances will still be available, but they will be prioritised for those life and limb emergencies, so other patients will likely be asked to make their own way to hospital or advised where else to seek help.”
The NWAS has confirmed it will be supported by the military and by private and volunteer ambulance services during the strike action today.
In a bid to “ensure the safety of patients”, the NWAS has also said that senior clinicians will be based in all its control rooms across the region to oversee incoming 999 calls and make decisions on responses based on clinical need.
“This is the ninth day we have faced some form of strike action in the service,” Ged Blezard from the NWAS said of today’s walkouts.
“So far, we have coped reasonably well. However, I understand there are only so many times that the public will listen to our messages, therefore it’s important to stress that one of the reasons we are able to get to people who need us on strike days is that we receive fewer calls, so it’s vital that the public continue to behave as they are.
“Please only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.”
Typical emergencies the NWAS says services will be prioritised for today include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, allergic reactions, and serious head injuries.
If hospital treatment is required, the NWAS said patients should also consider taking alternative transport – such as a taxi, or getting a lift from family or friends.
Equally, they should use 111.nhs.uk their GP or local pharmacy for help with “non-urgent health concerns”.
Mr Blezard also stressed the importance that people don’t repeat-call 999 to “ask for updates on where your ambulance is”, adding that they should “only call us back if your condition has worsened or to cancel the ambulance as we need to keep lines free for other emergencies”.
“We are hoping for a resolution to the dispute, but ultimately, this is a matter for the government and trade unions to settle,” he concluded.
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”