Paramedic: 'If one of my family had to call ambulance I'd be very concerned'
A PARAMEDIC has urged the public to back industrial action in a row over union recognition.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service has decided to "de-recognise" the Unite union, claiming the working relationship was "disappointing".
Workers are now deciding whether to take industrial action as tension mounts within the service.
One paramedic working for Yorkshire Ambulance Service appealed to the public to understand why they were considering striking.
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The paramedic, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "No one wants to go on strike but we're starting to feel like we have to.
"If it does happen, we'll really want the public's support."
Unite has been angered by the trust's decision to introduce emergency care assistants.
The union says these roles are given to people with less training than paramedics and they would be unable to cope with more serious emergencies.
The paramedic said: "There are assistant practitioners, who know basic first aid, and emergency care assistants, who only have six weeks' training.
"They are supposed to be paired with much more qualified paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
"But, on occasions, the two lesser-qualified roles have been paired together.
"It is giving people who call 999 a false impression. They think they are getting a paramedic who has the proper training and skills.
"But getting an assistant practitioner and an emergency care assistant would be like two auxiliary nurses trying to run a ward completely on their own.
"This is a dangerous, time-bomb situation."
The paramedic also points out emergency care assistants and assistant practitioners may be sent on calls which, on the face of things, were only expected to be minor.
He said: "You could be called to a woman fallen at home and think it would be a minor call or a broken bone. But when you arrive, it could be an elderly woman who has fallen and is bleeding to death.
"If I was away and one of my family members had to phone the ambulance, I would be deeply concerned."
Unite is against the introduction of the emergency care assistants and its de-recognition by the trust.
The union also claims the trust is ignoring recommendations made in the recent Francis Report, which was released after an inquiry into the high number of deaths at Stafford Hospital.
Unite's head of health Rachael Maskell said: "At a time when the Francis Report recommends a culture of candour focused on patient care and underpinned by law, it beggars belief that bosses at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust have taken this action.
"They have de-recognised Unite, as the trade union representing paramedics and other ambulance staff, for raising concerns about the proposed shake-up in ambulance services.
"It appears that managers have something to hide and don't want to engage with a legitimate trade union which has been speaking up on behalf of its ambulance staff members and the Yorkshire public.
"Their attitude flies in the face of the findings of the Francis Report and smacks of bullying and gagging those who believe patients will be put at risk.
"The fact that Unite's membership at the trust has soared in recent weeks proves we are on the right track in raising concerns."
Unite is taking legal advice on the trust's decision.
Mark Inman, head of emergency operations for the Hull and East Riding area at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: "We would like to reassure members of the public that our emergency care assistants and assistant practitioners are trained to recognise patients with serious illnesses and injuries and are able to request immediate clinical support, should the need arise."