Unite, the largest union in the country, repeated its call today (Thursday 6 June) for talks in the Yorkshire ambulance service ‘patient safety’ dispute on the eve of a 12-hour stoppage tomorrow (Friday 7 June).
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “Our members are increasingly concerned about patient safety because of the downgrading of the current skill level on NHS frontline vehicles in Yorkshire.
“We call, yet again, on the blinkered, hardline management at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to enter into meaningful talks with Unite.
“The continuing refusal of the management to discuss patient safety – which led to the derecognition of the union – has left our members with no option, but to take further industrial action.”
Unite’s 500 members will stage a 12-hour stoppage tomorrow (Friday) from 12 midday to 12 midnight. This follows a successful one-day strike on 2 April.
If the management still maintains its intransigence to negotiations there will be a 24-hour stoppage on Saturday 22 June from midnight to midnight. Unite members are also currently operating a continuous overtime ban.
Terry Cunliffe said: “As clinicians, they feel very strongly about what they see as the downgrading of the frontline response to emergency calls and the serious effect this will have on patient care in Yorkshire.”
The dispute centres on the trust’s plans to cut the budget by £46 million over the next five years - even though Unite said the ambulance workloads were increasing month-by-month by as much as six per cent.
Unite said this has meant the removal of skilled technician staff. They are being replaced by emergency care assistant roles (ECAs) who are being given only six weeks training - only half of which is in clinical skills.
Unite is also increasingly concerned at the continued and increasing use of private ambulance firms to 'plug the gaps' in NHS 999 responses.
Unite is calling for more training for the ECAs, so they have the proper skill set to tackle the more demanding tasks now being asked of them.
For further information please contact Terry Cunliffe on 07776 202007, Rachael Maskell, Unite head of health, on 07768 693933, Debbie Wilkinson, Unite senior rep at the trust, on 07815 145054 or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.