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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Threat grows of strike action by ‘demoralised’ paramedics warns Cumbria union convener

PARAMEDICS are likely to vote for industrial action as the ambulance service approaches “breaking point” – according to union representatives.

Staff morale at the North West Ambulance Service is at rock bottom according to Mike Oliver, a paramedic and the Cumbria convener for Unison, the health workers union.

A national survey of 1,300 ambulance workers by Unison showed one in five described their work-life balance as “terrible”.

Mr Oliver, who worked at Ambleside ambulance station before transferring to Carlisle, said: “In Cumbria and across the NWAS we are overworked and under staffed. The cost improvement plans hospitals are implementing are having the consequence that A&E doesn’t have the capacity to cope with demand. That means longer waiting times for ambulance crews.

“Morale is very low. More than £1m has been spent on overtime when paramedics have to stay over at the end of their shifts. The problem is that we don’t have the staff to plug the gaps when staff are off sick or have to come in later to meet the statutory 11-hour break between shifts.”

Mr Oliver said ambulance workers were struggling to take proper breaks during their shift, with some ambulance crews working up to eight hours without a break.

He added: “The service is approaching breaking point.”

Yesterday, Unison’s health conference backed an emergency motion calling for the union’s 450,000 NHS members to be balloted on whether to take industrial action over the government’s decision not to award a one per cent wage rise.

Mr Oliver said all 11 ambulance trusts were due to meet in London on March 23 to discuss a further ballot on reductions in unsocial hours payments.

He added: “Industrial action is likely when MPs have voted to give themselves an 11 per cent pay rise and we are facing pay cuts.”

Michael Forrest, director of organisational development for the NWAS, said: “The welfare of our staff is something we take very seriously. We are aware that our crews, at times, can become stressed and we offer support both from the trust directly and indirectly from our Occupational Health services.

“We are constantly reviewing our working environment and working practices to ensure we provide a safe and healthy working environment for all staff.”

Have your say

Low moral,stressed,having to stay on late.Then we get to the crux of the matter Money.Don't give us your phoney platitudes just come out with it.As for stress try a foot patrol down The Falls Road or the Ardoyne.

Posted by Tommy Atkind on 17 April 2014 at 08:23

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