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Ambulance Staff Balloted For Strike Action

Monday January 20 2014

AMBULANCE staff are being balloted for strike action over shift changes - which could mean paramedics work more than ten hours without a lunch break.

The union Unite is balloting its 450 members at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

They're claiming shift patterns aren't family friendly and will lead to an over-tired workforce which would impact on patient safety.

It's had no consultation over the rotas, which it claims are being rushed in early next month.

The union said breaks would be 'at the whim of managers' and wants a protected meal break of 30 minutes after six hours.

Unite has been in a long-running dispute with the trust over its concerns relating to patient safety and cuts of £46m over a five-year period.

It's also concerned about the increasing use of private ambulances, which it claims are being used to 'plug the gap' in NHS 999 responses.

Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: "Our members have been under sustained attack by the trust's hardline management for more than a year.

"The latest erosion in their employment conditions is the demand to work elongated shifts which could mean them working more than ten hours on the trot.

"This could affect their ability to do their jobs - helping people in distress.

"I think the people of Yorkshire will find this is completely unacceptable."

The ballot closes on January 24.

David Whiting, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust chief executive, said: "We refute the latest misleading and factually incorrect claims being made by Unite around staff rest breaks and shift patterns.

"Changes to staff rotas and rest breaks have been agreed after a period of consultation with staff and Unison, following a detailed and comprehensive review of our service.

"They're being introduced following agreement with staff and their representatives and form part of changes we're making to improve our responsiveness for patients and increase operational efficiency.

"Staff welfare is a key priority for the trust and, while we have to ensure our staff are available to respond to emergencies, we balance this with adequate rest breaks for our staff."

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Reply Posted by Andrew on Monday January 20 2014 at 16:07
It is shocking what they are proposing! how on earth can you effectively do his job without breaks for food and re hydration, No other job would allow this and I know a few staff and it is always patient care first but they also have basic needs which could be eroded away if it is left to managers. Give them protected meal breaks so they can work with concentration and energy

Reply Posted by Rex on Monday January 20 2014 at 16:53
Welcome to the world of Yorkshire ambulance

Reply Posted by Collet on Monday January 20 2014 at 18:30
Haven't heard the Union saying much about that poor lady in Wales who was begging for an ambulance to be sent for her husband,and we all know about the outcome,they always seem to be against any form of change that we all have to go through at times. The ambulance service belongs to us all, it's not there to be used as a political game.

Reply Posted by sid on Monday January 20 2014 at 20:12
My god! I,all try that on with my staff tomorrow... See where it gets me!
Disgusting, they are being treat like robots! How this can be allowed to happen this day and age is beyond me.
I don't understand how it can be allowed.

Reply Posted by Kfc on Monday January 20 2014 at 20:44
Asa person who loved ones relies on the Ambulance Services 999 service regular.The staff Are hard working stressed land tired.

When you dial 999 and there is some one at the other end of the phone,reassuring you some one is one the way to help you it's priceless.

They witness some of the most horrific sites in Road Traffic Accidents. They are normally first on scene.

They may have witnessed a suicide followed by a child being killed on their bike, some one stabbed in there back, and only four hours into there shifts with 8 hours to work.

These people are life savers and mums and dads. Give them the respect they deserve.

We know why sadly people die waiting for ambulances it about cost cuttings and savings.

It's not about each and every ambulance working commitment to there jobs.

Reply Posted by rainbow on Tuesday January 21 2014 at 12:49
There were 4 ambulances on a lunch break in a Welsh hospital while one poor bloke was dying of a heart attack. Time somebody put this failing organisation back on track. They should have their lunch when its quiet and be prepared to put it down in an emergency or get people in who will.!!

Reply Posted by Q on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 17:45
Rainbow, have you read the story? There was one on a lunch break and 4 waiting to hand over patients. one of which was waiting 5 hours. there are no quiet times any more. do you work up to 10 hours without a break then have to make decisions regarding life and death. Your idea of "putting it back on track will cost lives"

Reply Posted by Hmm on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 20:28
Police officers don't have a "protected lunch break" regardless of the length of shift. It's all part of being an emergency service.

Reply Posted by Q on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 20:42
that's true Police don't have protected meal breaks but they only work an 8 hour shifts not 10 or 12 hours. also the ambulance service is not coincided an emergency service. they are an essential service. That's why ambulance staff don't retire at 55 along with the police and fire service but instead are looking at retiring at 67-ish. this isn't even an idea that ambulance staff wanted. a few years ago they were paid meal breaks which they went out for calls but then the trusts had a bright idea to save money by not paying for the meal breaks and saving half hours pay per shift per person the result being protected meal breaks as they weren't paid. but that was back when there was quiet times.

Reply Posted by q on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 21:07
further to my last comment please understand the the term "protected meal break" is inaccurate and should be unpaid meal break. it's protected because it's unpaid.a money making idea brought in by the trust.

Reply Posted by Hmm on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 21:38
@Q I am a Police Officer and I assure you we don't work 8 hour shifts. A response officers shifts vary between 9 and 15 hours.

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 22:46
No one should have to wait more than four hours for a "break" irrespective of their place of work end of!

Reply Posted by sid on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 22:55
I need to look at the employment laws. As far as I was concerned I thought it was illegal to not have breaks. Also illegal to phone/text employees when they are not at work . The zero hours contract again, illegal. I'm obviously out of date big style,but as I do not follow any of the new disgusting rules and regs and can sleep at night,I shall carry on treating my guys as the hard working human beings that they are. When did things get so barbaric towards employees? I missed it!

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Thursday January 23 2014 at 09:44
Nearly every piece of employment legislation has a "get out clause" the clause is as follows:

"as far as reasonably practicable"

The Tories introduced all the anti union legislation in the Thatcher years sid, some of the stuff would really make your eyes water.
My mate works for a firm doing 12 hour shifts and he gets one 20 min break and one ten min break in all those hours.
This is the absolute minimum the company can get away with under the current legislation.

Reply Posted by sid on Thursday January 23 2014 at 18:41
Well, I have a job vacancy now, seems like I,all have to brush up on the new rules and regs eh. Saying that, so long as I'm not doing anything wrong,our contract will stay the same.

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Thursday January 23 2014 at 20:35
Good lad, if its not broke then don't try fixing it.

Reply Posted by q on Wednesday January 22 2014 at 23:27
@hmm obviously you would know that more then me. I was lead to understand that the hours are 8 on a shift and any more time is on an overtime basis. In this 15 hour shift are you constantly out on patrol not ever getting back to a station for paperwork of with someone in custody. We do not our area of operations in within Yorkshire there are no facilities for us other then toilets at the hospitals. It is extremely rare there are any time we don't have a patient or going to one. The lack of the rest of the health service to keep up with a 24 hour society has made sure of that. And it isn't helped by police comms sending us job that are clearly wrihin police remit. As it happens I have not been balited for any industrial action. I am in a different union however at some point the people are going to get the ambulance service it deserves and not the one people want or need. This statement can also refer to the cuts in other services including the police and fire.

Reply Posted by Hmm on Thursday January 23 2014 at 00:03
@Q it's swings and roundabouts. Some shifts you get time to come in for refreshments or have time to get them out and about. Other days it's impossible. It's not unheard of to spend entire shifts (9 hours +) sitting a scene or out somewhere with no hope of relief. These shifts are without toilet breaks, refreshment or just 10 minutes to sit and get the weight off your feet.
I completely agree with your sentiment that people will get the service they deserve and you're right that it's a sentiment that covers the review and cuts to all emergency services.
When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys and I'm afraid society will learn that lesson on behalf of this government.