Overstretched and under-resourced accident and emergency departments across the UK have led to fire engines being used as makeshift ambulances in a desperate attempt to stem the crisis.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The A&E crisis is a direct result of the governments failed austerity agenda.
“The public are being put at risk because the government have cut staff, resources and equipment in both the NHS and fire and rescue service.
“In certain incidences firefighters have been diverted away from doing their own work to cover for mistakes made by this government in the NHS.
“The knock on effect means that vital fire prevention work will be compromised as well as the ability to respond to other fire emergencies at a time of year where firefighters are expecting to deal with an increased number of flooding incidents across the UK.
“The A&E crisis is a product of this government’s failed policies – they need to get a grip.”