Unite’s offer to resolve dispute rebuffed by Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Tim Lezard

Yorkshire ambulanceUnite has repeated its offer to hold talks in a bid to settle the Yorkshire ambulance dispute in the interests of patient safety.

But the union’s overtures, including an offer to hold talks over the Easter holiday, have been met by ‘a stone wall of silence’ from senior executives at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Unite’s 500 paramedics and other ambulance staff members at the trust will be holding meetings over the next week to plan the next stage in their dispute over patient safety and the de-recognition of the union, following their successful one-day strike on April 2nd.

Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “Our offer to hold talks with the trust’s senior executives has been met by a stone wall of silence, which the Yorkshire public may find surprising given that the key issue here is patient safety.”

The trust’s hardline executives de-recognised Unite as a trade union, after it raised concerns about patient safety as a result of the trust proposing to save £46 million over the next five years.

Terry Cunliffe said: “Our members want a resolution, but not at the expense of patient safety.  To achieve this means addressing the underlying issues which are the de-recognition of Unite and discussing the workforce plan.

“Our members will be holding meetings during the next week and, depending on what the consensus is, further strike action could be on the cards.”

A controversial proposal by the trust is 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.

Unite is calling for more training for the ECAs, so they have the proper skill set to tackle the more demanding tasks now being asked of them.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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