Unite gives cautious ‘welcome’ to extra funding for NH...

Unite gives cautious ‘welcome’ to extra funding for NHS Highland ambulance provision

31 March 2017

Unite the union is repeating its calls for action over work pressure and safety concerns as an extra £400,000 is made available for the provision of ambulance services in Caithness. 

The investment comes following ongoing concerns raised by Unite members over working conditions and community residents about a shortage of emergency cover in parts of the Highlands. Unite said its members working for the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) in Skye, Lochaber and Caithness have told of days when the service was stretched. 

Unite ambulance members in the north of Scotland on 3 March voted to start an official dispute regarding concerns about the service being provided to the public. 

Some 95 per cent of members who voted said they had no confidence in the North Divisional management of SAS, and instructed Unite to register a formal dispute. 

Unite has asked the ambulance service to take action on: 

  • Ambulances not being available for 999 emergency because they are being used to transfer patients to hospital
  • Emergency cover in Aberdeen being propped up by crews being shifted from other areas of the SAS North Division, creating shortage of cover in other rural areas
  • Workers consistently working over their scheduled hours 
  • Worker fatigue

Following the announcement of extra investment, Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said: "For months and months, our members have been raising concerns about the ambulance service in the north of Scotland. This extra funding shows that they were right. We welcome the investment, but we will need to wait and see what effect it actually has on the ground. We need to address the fundamental problems - long hospital transfers taking ambulances away from emergency cover, long shifts, no breaks, and ambulances being taken away from one area to service another. 

"Caithness is far from being the only area in Scotland where the ambulance service is going through these difficulties. Unite will continue to campaign and work with local communities until we are sure that people across the country are getting the service they deserve, and our members are getting the respect and rest they deserve."


For more information contact Unite Scotland Industrial Officer Tommy Campbell on 07810157920 or

  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.