Unite regional officer Frank Keogh said: “Unite is concerned about any delays in ambulance response times in the West Midlands which are caused by the financial straitjacket imposed by the government on NHS trusts.
“Our members strive to provide the best possible service to patients in distress as quickly as possible, but are faced with management pressures due to this financial crisis.
“Unite, along with other staff side unions, is engaged with on-going discussions with the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which covers 6,000 square miles, to alleviate hold-ups, delays and reduce the risks to the public.
“This has been heightened by the crisis hitting A&E departments across England, which the government claims that it is now trying to address.
“If someone has a heart attack they will have received immediate treatment by a paramedic in a staff car, however, there may be cases where ambulances could take longer than appropriate, because of the pressures on the ambulance service.
“The trust is going through a programme of reducing the number of cars it deploys on a daily basis to provide more ambulances to carry patients to hospital.
“However, the trust has the possibility of a £3 million fine hanging over its head if it does not meet the government’s targets. This would adversely affect the ability to provide more vehicles and would also be very detrimental to staff morale.
“Problems with ambulance services are common across England, and there have been particular and serious problems with the Yorkshire ambulance service, which Unite believes, is being prepared for privatisation by the back door.
“What is happening to the ambulance service and, the NHS generally, stems from the so-called Nicholson challenge which calls for ‘efficiency savings' of £20bn from the NHS by 2015.
“So far, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has failed to get a grip of the problems engulfing the NHS.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.