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Third Strike For Yorkshire Ambulance Staff


1:41pm 14th February 2014

A row is continuing over changes to shift patterns at Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Members of the Unite union will stage two further strikes between 3pm and 8pm on Friday and Monday.

The union has raised concerns that paramedics could work more than 10 hours without a meal break, but service bosses have disputed what they are calling "false claims".

Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: "The latest strikes over elongated shift patterns follow the latest refusal of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to meet Unite to resolve the dispute.

"I would emphasis that the Trust's executive did not enter face-to-face negotiations to resolve the dispute at ACAS-brokered talks which led to strike action taking place on 1 and 3 February.

"It has now refused to meet the union to seek agreement to avoid this week's strike action."

However, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has insisted that its offer of further talks was rejected by Mr Cunliffe.

Chief Executive David Whiting said: "We continue to refute the misleading and potentially defamatory claims being made by Unite the union on a number of matters.

"Mr Cunliffe was invited to a meeting on 3 December 2013 to discuss the proposals and he declined to attend. He has been sent copies of our proposals on several occasions which clearly state: 'The new agreed rest break window for a 10-hour shift starts at 3½ hours and ends at 7 hours, and for a 12-hour shift starts at 4 hours and ends at 8 hours.' 'Under the new model the rest break will be protected and held at an individual's base station.' Therefore, I cannot understand why Mr Cunliffe persists in stating that staff will not get rest breaks.

"We are fully assured that we have followed all due process, including adherence to Care Quality Commission standards, and undertaken extensive consultation with staff and unions on the changes we are making. However, our primary focus remains firmly on safeguarding patient care and we are committed to minimising the level of disruption to our services."

Members of the public have been reminded to use the service wisely during periods of strike action.

Mr Whiting added: "Our plans to maintain high standards of patient care and minimise any impact from previous episodes of strike action were effective and we have taken steps to ensure our service remains just as resilient this time.

"We would like to reassure members of the public that our contingency plans continue to focus on providing a safe, responsive and high-quality emergency service which remains the Trust's top priority."

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