'Strike action won't impact on 999 calls'
AMBULANCE chiefs have reassured patients they will still be able to call 999 and get a quick response during strike action.
Managers at Yorkshire Ambulance Service say they are already starting to put contingency plans in place, ready for the walk-out on Tuesday, April 2.
Unite the Union members at the service announced earlier this week they would hold the one-day strike next month and begin a continuous overtime ban from Tuesday.
The dispute is over the service's derecognition of Unite and its decision to introduce a new emergency care assistant role, which the union says is putting patient safety at risk, as they receive less training than paramedics.
IS YOUR CAR KEY BENT ? REMOTE FOB NOT WORKING ? LOST CAR KEYS ?...View details
FOR ALL YOUR CAR KEY NEEDS CALL US NOW ON
SNAPPED KEYS, LOST KEYS, KEYS LOCKED IN VEHICLES,
WE ALSO REPAIR 90% OF ALL REMOTES AND KEYS, NO FIX NO CHARGE.
Terms: FREE REMOTE KEY FOB BATTERY ONE PER CUSTOMER
SAVE £3.00 WITH THIS FREE BATTERY
Contact: 01482 423414
Contact: 01482 423414
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Vince Larvin, the service's locality director for north and east Yorkshire, said: "April 2 is a Tuesday, which isn't one of our busiest days of the week, but it is half-term.
"We have things that we can put in place, which we have used in the past, to minimise the impact of the strike.
"We can use volunteer ambulances, bring in people to work overtime from other areas and can have managers working on ambulances as well.
"We think there will be about 60 or 70 Unite members striking in the East Yorkshire area, but not all of those are clinical workers and not all will have been on a shift that day anyway.
"We don't want people to have read the headlines about strike action and panic they won't get an ambulance."
On Monday, Unite announced its 450 paramedics and other ambulance staff had voted to take industrial action as part of their dispute with the service.
Unite's regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: "Unite calls for the management to open constructive negotiations in the run-up to April 2.
"This is a final window of opportunity for the trust to resolve this situation for the benefit of the Yorkshire public.
"The management has been 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.
"Now our members have voted for strike action and a continuous overtime ban.
"It shows the depth of concern they feel about patient safety because of the £46m of savings managers want to implement.
"The hardline management has responded by derecognising Unite and twice rejecting our attempts to take this dispute to the conciliation service Acas and to discuss the implications of industrial action."
One of the key proposals that has angered Unite is the introduction of emergency care assistants (ECAs).
The union says they only receive six weeks' training, whereas a paramedic undergoes a two-year degree course.
It also claims the response to 999 calls is becoming a postcode lottery for the sick and injured.
However, Mr Larvin said: "We are one of the last services not to have ECAs working for us – many ambulance trusts have already introduced them.
"They work with training paramedics, so they can help on scene and drive the ambulance while the paramedic attends to the patient in the back.
"Other trusts have had them for a while, which is why we are one of the most expensive services in the country.
"Yes, we have to make savings, but this isn't going to affect the treatment patients receive when they dial 999."
A total of 61.8 per cent of the union members voted in favour of the strike action, with 38.2 per cent voting against.
A total of 83 per cent voted in favour of industrial action, short of a strike, and 17 per cent against.
The ballot was held earlier this month and closed on Sunday evening, with the strike announcement made by the union on Monday.