Ambulance staff could strike over de-recognition


Yorkshire ambulance workers could go on strike in protest at their union being de-recognised in a row over patient safety.

The Unite union has launched a strike ballot after Yorkshire Ambulance Service said it would no longer be recognised in negotiations for its 450 members.

The move came after Unite claimed patient safety was being put at risk by cost-cutting plans which will see semi-skilled care assistants sent to 999 call-outs.

Unions said the salaries and skills of more than 300 emergency staff would be downgraded to help save £46m over five years.

Terry Cunliffe, Unite’s regional officer, said: “I can confirm that Unite has begun the legal process to hold an industrial action ballot over the trust’s unilateral decision to de-recognise Unite. The management is 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.”

Yorkshire Ambulance Service said it recognised both the importance and value of keeping good relations with staff and their representatives, and added Unite members could still be represented on individual matters.

David Whiting, chief executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We carefully reflected upon this difficult matter before advising Unite the Union of our decision to derecognise them.

“Unfortunately the working relationship with Unite, the union remains disappointing and we ,have not received a constructive contribution to the difficult decisions that the trust has been required to make for the future, particularly as we seek to maintain high-quality care for patients against the realities of the tough economic climate. I would like to reassure members of the public that all our decisions are focused on continuing to deliver a high quality and responsive service to patients and this will always remain our top priority.”