Ambulance staff to strike

Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital
Pontefract General Infirmary / Pontefract Hospital

Ambulance workers will stage two days of strike of strike action next month in a row over patient safety and trade union recognition.

Around 500 staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) Trust will stage a 12-hour strike on June 7 and a 24-hour walkout on June 22, the Unite union has announced.

The union has claimed that plans to send semi-skilled emergency care assistants to 999 call-outs will compromise patient safety - but YAS bosses have insisted safety will not be affected.

Terry Cunliffe, Unite regional officer, said: “The public need to be made aware of the risks that this plan presents, which includes the downgrading of the current skill level on NHS frontline vehicles.”

Bosses at YAS also de-recognised Unite for negotiations on behalf of its members in February.

Mr Cunliffe added: “Since the union’s de-recognition, the trust’s executives have made no attempt to meet with Unite to resolve any issues or address member’s concerns, despite our repeated calls for talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas.

“Once more, Unite calls for the management to do the mature thing and get around the table and negotiate in a positive fashion.

“No emergency worker ever wants to go on strike. But if the trust is refusing to meet to discuss members’ concerns they are left with little choice.”

YAS said that emergency care assistants have been introduced to support fully-qualified staff and the role has already been introduced in other ambulance services across the country.

It said in a statement: “All of our emergency medical technicians will continue to work at the Trust and over the next five years will be given the opportunity to undertake a fully-funded higher education course at university to up-skill to paramedic level.

“Emergency care assistants have been introduced into our workforce structure to work as a support role to fully-qualified clinicians - emergency medical technicians, paramedics and advanced practitioners, and this is a recognised role which is used nationally by other ambulance services across the country.”

Unite said the Friday, June 7 strike would be held from 12 noon-midnight.

The walkout on Saturday, June 22 will run for 24 hours from midnight.

Unite’s announcement follows a 24-hour strike by staff on April 2.