A new YouGov poll shows public support for striking ambulance workers is holding firm at 63%. However, a leading health testing expert says that there is potential reason for concern about the impact of the strikes.
Government figures reveal a 19.5% rise in registered deaths over average levels during the week of the first ambulance strike this year.
This increase was followed by an 11% jump over average the following week. That means a likely 15% spike in mortalities over expected levels during the mandatory five-day registration period for deaths, following the ambulance workers’ industrial action on 11 January.
Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, said, ‘Ambulance staff retain significant public support ahead of their next scheduled strike on Friday, 10 February.
With a starting salary of just £27,000 for such a high-pressure job, there’s little wonder support for paramedics continues to be strong. However, the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) death registration figures, for the week ending 13 January and the week ending 20 January, show a significant increase in mortalities over the five-year average.
‘Medical professionals have been anxious to establish if the ambulance strikes have had an impact on patient outcomes. While far from conclusive, this new data might be useful as one tool in helping to assess the effect of this industrial action.
‘Around 2,600 ambulance workers were on strike on 11 January, including paramedics, ambulance technicians, emergency care assistants and other 999 crew. Action took place in the North-West, North-East, West Midlands, East Midlands and Wales.
‘Looking at a UK-wide breakdown, there were 16,158 deaths registered in England in the week ending 13 January, an 18.8% rise above average for the time of year, and 1,183 registered deaths in Wales, a 28.7% rise above average. Similarly, for the week ending 20 January, there were 14,798 deaths in England, 10.7% above average, and 974 deaths in Wales, 15.3% above expected five-year levels.
‘It’s perhaps relevant to note that at-home deaths in both England and Wales increased by 31.5% above average (there were 1,082 excess home deaths) during the week ending 13 January and 28.7% above average (970 excess deaths) during the week ending 20 January. This possibly indicates some complications or issues surrounding ambulance availability, although we must be careful not to draw any firm conclusions without further data.
‘Other factors may also be at work in the increased number of excess registered deaths above the five-year average. For example, Covid-related death registrations were 5.3% above average in the week ending 13 January and 4.9% for the week ending 20 January. Flu and Strep A outbreaks will also have played a part.
‘For anyone who is particularly worried about the next planned strike on 10 February, a general health test might be a useful course of action. This will ensure they are in good health to fight infections and reduce the likelihood of needing access to health services this winter.
London Medical Laboratory’s General Health Profile Test provides people with a comprehensive check-up of their general health, including diabetes (HbA1c), gout, liver & kidney function, bone health, iron levels and a full cholesterol profile. Other more comprehensive tests check your vitamin D levels, which are often low at this time of year, and any potential thyroid or hormonal imbalances.
‘They can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 90 selected pharmacies and health stores. If done in-store, a full blood test can be added that can indicate a wide range of issues such as infection, anaemia and leukaemia.