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Strike action over Yorkshire Ambulance Service changes
AMBULANCE staff in Yorkshire have voted to hold a one-day strike next month in a row over emergency response changes.
Members of Unite agreed today (Monday March 18) to hold a 24 hour strike on April 2 over proposals to introduce emergency care assistants (ECAs) to ambulances and the derecognition of the union.
Unite, which has 450 paramedics and other ambulance staff members in the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, has also voted to bring in a continuous overtime ban from March 26.
Its members are staking action over a proposal to introduce emergency care assistants to work alongside higher qualified paramedics as part of plans to make £46m of savings over the next five years.
It would involve teaming up care assistants with more highly trained paramedics, who complete a two-year degree course.
The Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust says the changes to its accident and emergency workforce will maintain a high quality response service and that patients are its top priority.
But Unite says the move will result in 999 responses becoming a “postcode lottery” with some patients receiving attention from fully trained paramedics and others getting a private ambulance with lesser qualified staff.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe accused the management of being “hardline” by derecognising Unite and rejecting attempts to refer the dispute to Acas.
He urged them to take part in “constructive negotiations” with the union in the run-up to the proposed strike action.
Stephen Moir, Deputy Chief Executive at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We would like to reassure members of 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 always 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 Unite the Union members decide to go ahead with the industrial action they have outlined today.”
Jim Clark, chairman of North Yorkshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “I would hope they would get a settlement that didn’t cause problems for the people of North Yorkshire.”