Workplace Report July 2021

Health & safety news

‘Exhausted’ ambulance workers ballotted

Three health service unions will hold a consultative ballot of North West ambulance staff to gauge whether they are prepared to strike over a new call out system they say is leaving their members exhausted. Unite, UNISON and the GMB unions have called on the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust to change a new system that can result in ambulance workers driving for miles across the region in “blue-light conditions” for category 2 calls, only to then find themselves relieved by a more local team. Category 2 calls are classed as an emergency for a potentially serious condition that may require rapid assessment, urgent on-scene intervention and/or urgent transport.

Unite regional officer Gary Owen said the serious issue is caused by a lack of funding and shortage of ambulances and trained crews. He warned that members are “feeling drained” by long journeys that can be called off if a local crew suddenly becomes available. He said the delays in reaching patients can also increase the risk of physical assaults on ambulance staff.

The consultative ballot will “test the temperature as whether our respective members wish to hold a full scale industrial action ballot, including the option to strike”, he added.