Yorkshire Ambulance Workers Vote on Strike Action
4:35pm 13th June 2014
Ambulance workers in North Yorkshire are voting on strike action in a row over the role of support workers and shift patterns.
Members of the Unite union are voting in a ballot which closes on the 25th June, in a dispute which has been running since April last year.
The union is concerned about Emergency Care Assistants, who have had six weeks training being given more responsibilities. They are also concerned about a meal break system which Unite says would see workers on a 12 hour shift only given a 45 minute break between their 4th and 7th hour of duty. The union says it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of staff exhaustion.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said:
“We are balloting again for industrial action at the trust to secure the right for Unite to be recognised as a legitimate trade union in order to protect patient and staff safety.
“The chief executive David Whiting has imposed the new draconian conditions without any consultation or agreement with the unions.
“This high-handed action is another example for the reason why Unite has continued with our dispute for the last 18 months.
“We will not be intimidated by his threats. He has lost the confidence of the unions and the public.
“This latest dangerous move in relation to staff on the A&E rotas is unacceptable and will, in my opinion, cost lives.”
David Whiting, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said:
“Patients’ needs are at the heart of everything we do and our absolute focus is to ensure that we continue to deliver a safe, responsive and high quality service to our patients.
“Developments to the Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) role formed part of a wider package which was discussed with Unison earlier this week and although they felt unable to agree to the changes as a whole, they did indicate that they were satisfied with this element of the proposal.
“ECAs are operating well within their capability following their training and this development is also consistent with how other ambulance services operate across the country. We will be using our ECAs more flexibly to transport patients who do not require monitoring or treatment. They can also perform a valuable role as a first responder on scene with a defibrillator, much like our volunteer community first responders.
“As the primary role of the ECA is to work in a clinical support capacity alongside a fully-trained clinician, there will be very few occasions where they will be required to fulfil this additional element of their role.
“Along with many of our staff, we feel this is a positive move which allows us to fully utilise the skills of our ECAs and further improve the responsiveness of our service and the care we provide to patients. It also provides an opportunity for these staff to progress.
“It is disappointing that Unison has been unable to fully support us on this development, but we are committed to finding ways in which we can make things better for both our patients and our workforce and we will continue to work with our staff to do this.”
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