WELSH Ambulance has warned the public to think carefully about calling 999 as members of the service go on strike today, December 21.

The warning comes as GMB union’s South West and Wales representative has said in one Welsh Ambulance Service depot all striking members have had to be called away from the picket line on emergency calls.

GMB members are taking industrial action today as well as Wednesday, December 28, in a row over pay.

This follows strikes by members of the Royal College of Nursing, which are also happening today, and Thursday, December 15.

Welsh Ambulance are advising the public to only call 999 if seriously ill or injured with a risk to life on strike days.

Today, the service reiterated that statement.

"We are expecting today’s strike action to be challenging for us," said a spokesperson this morning.

"Our services will be affected, and we will only be able to send ambulances to those with very serious or life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

"Please think carefully before calling 999."

However, emergency calls are already taking their toll on the strikes. 

Nathan Holman tweeted a video of himself alone at Pentwyn service station in Cardiff just before 8am – less than an hour into the day-long walkout.

Mr Holman said: “I’m standing here on the picket line outside Pentwyn ambulance station.

“Unfortunately, all the members have had to go because, as you can see behind me, there’s only one vehicle left, they’ve all jumped on a vehicle and responded to emergency calls.

“So, just shows we’re still responding to the public.”

Around 1,500 ambulance staff in Wales are expected to take part in Wednesday’s industrial action.

Crews are still required to respond to critical 999 calls, but despite this the service is expected to be “significantly impacted”, according to the Welsh Government.

South Wales Argus: Ambulance strikes are taking place today as well as Wednesday, December 28, in a row over payAmbulance strikes are taking place today as well as Wednesday, December 28, in a row over pay (Image: PA Media)

In England, the Health Secretary has urged the public to be "mindful" and to "exercise their common sense" as thousands of ambulance workers and paramedics go on strike.

Strikes are taking place in a dispute over pay and conditions, with Steve Barclay saying he would not move on the issue.

Speaking on Sky News about the topic he gave a message to people to be mindful of their activities today to avoid putting pressure on the NHS.

He said: “We’re saying to the public to exercise their common sense in terms of what activities they do, being mindful of those pressures that are on the system.”

The ambulance service in Wales is devolved and run under the Welsh government, who also urge the public not to put extra pressure on the serive during strike action.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, has urged people to take extra care and only call 999 for life-threatening or serious emergencies during the ambulance strikes.

“There’s no doubt the two days of industrial action, following hard on the heels of action by nurses which have caused a delay in treatment for thousands of patients in Wales, are going to cause huge pressure on ambulance services. Ambulances will only be able to respond to the most urgent calls on strike days.

“Please don’t add extra pressure on services on these days and consider carefully what activities you take part in tomorrow and on the 28th.

“It’s important to call 999 if you are in immediate danger, but we must all consider very carefully how we use ambulance services on these days.

“It’s vital that all of us, as users of our NHS, do all we can to minimise pressure on our health service during the industrial action.”

Meanwhile, Professor Sir Stephen Powis also said ambulance strikes will create a “very difficult day” for the health service, but that heart attacks and strokes would be covered.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Today is obviously going to be a very difficult day with the health service.

“But we’ve been working very closely with the unions to ensure that emergency services for life-threatening conditions are maintained, and that will include stroke and heart attacks.

“There are increased clinicians in call centres to ensure that the right response goes out to the right incident.”

He advised people to dial 999 “as usual” if they have a life-threatening condition.

We'll give you a comment from the Welsh government when we get it.

Are you having issues getting hold of an ambulance today? Are you at a picket line on strike? Do you support the strikers? Let us know in comments below or email newsdesk@southwalesargus.co.uk