Ambulance workers are set to go on strike this week.
Unite has today (Tuesday) announced that its members will strike on Friday from 3pm to 9pm and then on Tuesday from 3pm to 9pm because of a dispute with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) over shift patterns.
The union has said that elongated shift patters currently in place mean that “it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of staff exhaustion”.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “The trust’s chief executive David Whiting continues to play hard ball with his employees and has snubbed every genuine attempt by Unite to engage in positive talks for the benefit of the Yorkshire public.
“Our members firmly believe that the public deserve a first-class, fully resourced ambulance service – and, as they have shown on a number of occasions since April 2013, they have been prepared to strike to strongly make that case.
“We have been buoyed up by the support we have received from Yorkshire people – and we thank them for that. Unite’s door is open for talks under the auspices of Acas at any time.”
Unite said YAS has brought in new detrimental working conditions which see emergency care assistants (ECAs), who have only six weeks training, being the first to respond to a ‘red’ (emergency) call). The union has called for extra training for ECAs and more flexibility for staff to take meal breaks.
YAS has criticised Unite for taking industrial action “without any concessions for the most seriously ill and injured patients” but said it was confident in its “robust contingency plans”.
Ian Brandwood, Executive Director of HR at the Trust, said: “We remain disappointed that Unite the Union has decided to continue with yet more strike action.
“Once again the industrial action will take place without any concessions for the most seriously ill and injured patients and we remain concerned over this type of action.
“We would like to reassure members of the public that we have robust contingency plans in place. We continue to focus on safeguarding patient care and are committed to minimising the level of disruption to our services. Throughout the period of industrial action we will be taking steps to maintain operational cover to sustain effective and safe services for our patients who find themselves needing emergency medical assistance. We will continue to make every effort to get to patients as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining high standards of patient care.
“We would appreciate the co-operation of the general public and would, once again, like to remind people to use our services wisely. Please only call 999 for an ambulance when someone has a life-threatening or serious illness or injury. Anyone requiring advice or treatment for a non-emergency situation or minor ailment should consider options such as self-care, a visit to a local pharmacist, contacting the NHS 111 urgent care service or their GP, visiting a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.”
To find your nearest non-emergency service, visit www.nhs.uk/service-search or call 111.