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Region’s Ambulance Service Boss Condemns Unite Industrial Action

The Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has condemned the latest actions of Unite the Union to strike as ‘reckless’ and ‘neglectful’ of patient care.

David Whiting spoke out ahead of tomorrow’s 24-hour strike by Unite the Union which will take place without any concessions for the most seriously ill and injured patients.  Despite continued discussions over a prolonged period, which have been supported through Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), Unite the Union has rejected the opportunity to talk further with senior management and refused to call off the industrial action. The latest talks took place yesterday (Thursday 30 January 2014).

The 24-hour strike, which will start at 00.01, is expected to have some impact on services as it could involve around 8 per cent of the total staff employed by the Trust. The Union will also carry out a further 4-hour strike on Monday 3 February which will start from 15.00.

David Whiting said:
“I would like to reiterate that I remain deeply concerned over this type of action, which I know is of concern to all of our A&E staff, who are very committed to patient care, and will place many of them in a very difficult situation.

“We continue to refute the misleading and factually incorrect claims being made by Unite the Union around patient safety.

“Our focus is on safeguarding patient care and we are committed to minimising the level of disruption to our services.  Industrial action in this form is certainly not in the best interests of patients, and it is deeply concerning for a trade union representing ambulance service workers to strike without making any concessions to patient safety.

“Throughout the 24-hour period of the strike we will be taking steps to maintain operational cover to sustain effective and safe services for patients calling upon us for emergency medical assistance.  We will continue to make every effort to get to patients as quickly as possible, whilst maintaining high standards of patient care.

“Our contingency plans are focused on providing a safe, responsive and high-quality emergency service to patients and this will always remain our top priority.”

The Trust is reminding the public to use the service wisely and asks people to only call 999 for an ambulance in an emergency when it is obvious that someone has a life-threatening or serious illness or injury.  Anyone requiring advice or treatment for a non-emergency situation or minor ailment considers options such as self-care, a visit to a local pharmacist, contacting the NHS 111 urgent care service or visiting a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.

Notes to Editor: 

1. Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has formally advised Unite the Union that, with effect from 4 February 2013, it has decided to cease to voluntarily recognise Unite the Union for the purposes of collective bargaining, ie negotiations on behalf of their members. 

2. The Trust remains committed to working in partnership with UNISON, which is not affected by the decision to derecognise Unite the Union, and to the principles of effective consultation and negotiation.  

3. Recognition of Unite the Union has been on a voluntary basis, not a statutory one.  Consequently the Trust is able to determine to no longer recognise Unite the Union on a voluntary basis.

4. Senior management representatives at the Trust continue to have open dialogue with ACAS.

5. The Trust is wholly committed to engaging with and involving its staff in matters that affect them and our patients.

6. UNISON is the largest trade union within the Trust and represents the majority of our employees. It is Britain and Europe's largest public sector union.

7. Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million people. The organisation receives an average of 2,180 emergency and urgent calls per day and employs over 4,600 staff.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department