More than 3,500 ambulance staff are to strike tomorrow for the second time over what unions are calling a real-term pay cut.

Crews will walk out on Wednesday, December 11, across three trusts including South East Coast Ambulance Service.

The dispute comes after staff were offered a four per cent pay rise amid the current cost of living crisis.

Picket lines are set to pop up across Brighton and Sussex and residents are being urged to “use health services appropriately” to alleviate pressure on the NHS during the strikes.

Rachel Harrison, national secretary of the GMB union, said: “GMB cancelled a planned strike over the Christmas period to say thank you to the public for their incredible support.

The Argus: Royal Sussex County Hospital is one of the departments hit by the strikesRoyal Sussex County Hospital is one of the departments hit by the strikes

“It also allowed time for the Government to talk to us about pay, but Ministers have dithered and postured, wasting valuable time.

"To end this dispute, GMB needs a concrete offer to help resolve the NHS’s crushing recruitment and retention crisis.

"The public expects the Government to treat this dispute seriously – it's time they got on with it.”

Picket lines across Brighton and Sussex are expected to be held in locations such as Brighton, Crawley and Hastings.

NHS Sussex said that they are expecting services to be extremely busy and are urging residents to use services appropriately to ensure that people can be looked after properly.

Those with serious and life-threatening injuries are being told to use services as normal, but those with less urgent concerns are being told to expect longer wait times.

Dr Dinesh Sinha, chief medical officer at NHS Sussex, said: “Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

“We ask for the public’s support during the day of industrial action so that those who most need NHS help and treatment can get the care they need.

"If it is a life-threatening emergency, please continue to use 999 or go to one of our Emergency Departments or A and Es.

“For other health needs please think very carefully about choosing the most appropriate NHS service – from your local pharmacist, GP practice or a walk-in minor injury unit or urgent treatment centre.

“If you do need support and care, it may take longer than you might expect to be seen and treated, so please be patient – NHS teams will be working very hard to make sure people can get the help they need.”

The Argus: Royal Sussex County HospitalRoyal Sussex County Hospital (Image: NQ Staff)

Those who need urgent but not life-threatening treatment are being told to call 111 first rather than calling 999.

NHS call centres are also expected to have few staff due to the strikes.

Other advice given to patients includes seeking their pharmacist for medicine queries as well as using services such as minor injury units.

Further walkouts by NHS staff are expected for two days on January 18 and 19.