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Ambulance staff to stage 24-hour strike
8:00am Saturday 23rd March 2013 in Local news
Ambulance staff in Yorkshire will stage a 24-hour strike next month after being balloted by the country’s biggest union.
The stoppage, by 450 paramedics and other ambulance staff members, will take place on Tuesday, April 2, unless a last-ditch solution is found, their union Unite warned.
In response, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said it had plans in place to avoid any disruption to patients if the industrial action goes ahead.
Unite said that it was derecognised as a trade union by the Trust after it raised concerns about patient safety as a result of the trust proposing to save £46 million over the next five years.
The union said a key proposal by the trust was the introduction of emergency care assistants (ECAs) to work alongside more highly-trained paramedics.
The ECA staff have only six weeks training, when a paramedic undergoes a two-year degree course, it said.
The union claimed that this introduction had resulted in managers deploying unqualified staff to emergencies with, in some cases, other ECAs or unqualified assistant practitioners.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “Unite calls for the management to open constructive negotiations in the run-up to April 2. This is a final window of opportunity for the trust to resolve this situation for the benefit of the Yorkshire public.
“The management has been trying to silence Unite after it raised legitimate concerns over patient safety that could flow from the shake-up of ambulance services in the next five years.”
Stephen Moir, deputy chief executive at the ambulance trust, which employs 4,300 staff, said: “We would like to reassure the public that the changes we are introducing to our A&E workforce will enable us to continue to deliver a high quality and responsive service to patients and they will remain our top priority.
“We would also like to provide assurance that the Trust has plans in place to avoid any disruption to patient care if the union decides to go ahead with the industrial action.”
Menston and Burley-in-Wharfedale Conservative MP Philip Davies was “very disappointed” at the decision to hold a strike.
“I don’t see how people claiming to be acting in favour of patient safety can take strike action which can only have the effect of jeopardising patient safety,” he added.
Keighley and Ilkley MP Conservative Kris Hopkins, said: “I have huge regard for the professional and often heroic work done by our ambulance staff, but this is not the right way to settle the dispute.