Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff are set to go on strike again today, following industrial action on Friday.
Three hundred and seventy five members of the country’s largest union Unite are due to take part between 3-8pm over the imminent introduction of elongated shift patterns that could mean working ten hours without a meal break.
The latest chapter in the dispute about the impact on patient safety – and Unite’s derecognition for raising those concerns – comes after revelations that the trust’s bosses were swanning about in top of the range Mercedes and BMWs – which, Unite condemned as “breathtaking hypocrisy”.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “The latest strikes over elongated shift patterns follow the latest refusal of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to meet Unite to resolve the dispute.
“I would emphasis that the trust’s executive did not enter face-to-face negotiations to resolve the dispute at Acas-brokered talks which led to strike action taking place on 1 and 3 February.
“It has now refused to meet the union to seek agreement to avoid this week’s strike action.
“We would welcome an independent enquiry by the CQC to determine whether it is Unite or the trust’s executives who are misleading the public about the facts in this dispute, including the reason for Unite’s derecognition; patient safety; and whether the trust’s plan is focused on patient care or is just a five-year £46 million cost cutting exercise.”
Unite said that the trust’s proposals would impact on patient safety as ambulance staff could go more than ten hours without a meal break, as such breaks would be at the whim of managers. The union wants a protected meal break of 30 minutes after six hours.
The union has also expressed concern at the continued and increasing use of private ambulance firms to ‘plug the gaps’ in NHS 999 responses which was particularly noticeable in December and over the Christmas and New Year period.