Union’s anger at changes to ambulance service in West Yorkshire

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Plans to shake-up the ambulance service in West Yorkshire will jeopardise patient care, claims a union.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust says it plans to increase the number of qualified paramedics over the next five years and introduce a new role - an emergency care assistant.

The assistants, who have been used at other trusts, will work alongside paramedics in ambulances.

They will provide clinical support and be trained to undertake emergency “blue light” response driving.

The trust says the changes will ensure it delivers the best possible clincal outcome for patients, achieves a sustainable level of performance and balances its budget.

But union Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said the changes are about cost-cutting.

He said currently, paramedics undergo a two-year degree course to equip them with the correct skills to respond to patients. He said the new proposed emergency care assistant role will be responding to emergencies with only six weeks training.

The ambulance trust also says there will be no reduction in the overall number of staff working on the A and E emergency service and no compulsory redundancies.
But union Unite says the trust currently has over 300 staff who will be demoted and de-skilled as a result of the plans being introduced and the majority of these staff will have little or no opportunity of further training for at least seven years.