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Scottish Ambulance Members Vote For Action

Friday, October 9, 2015

GMB Scotland Ambulance Members Vote For Official Strike Ballot If Excessive Demands On The Service And Staff Are Not Tackled By Scottish Government And Managers

We will continue to work in partnership to put pressure on the Scottish Government to increase the funding to the Scottish Ambulance Service says GMB Scotland.

GMB Scotland members in the Scottish Ambulance Service have voted overwhelmingly, in a consultative ballot, for the union to move to an official ballot for strike action if excessive demands on the service and staff are not tackled by Scottish Government and Scottish Ambulance Service.

GMB Scotland undertook a consultative ballot for members employed within the Ambulance Service as Paramedics, Technicians, Ambulance Control Centre Staff, Fleet, Admin and Ambulance Care Assistants.

Action is needed to deal with the on-going and systematic abuse of staff in the service due to shortage of capacity that is also impacting on the service delivered to the people of Scotland. The issues that require attention are as follows:

  • Lone workers, such as paramedic response unit operators, are waiting on occasions two hours or more before an appropriate resource that is capable of transporting their patient arrives on scene. Staff are feeling the stress, strain and anger of family members of patients knowing their loved ones should have been in hospital hours before.  Stress levels in this area of employment have reached epidemic proportions and many staff have either resigned their position or they are on long term sick leave with stress the main cause of their illness.
  • Members are getting called out to 999 calls before looking at or checking the safety of the vehicle or confirmed the medical equipment is not only available but in working condition.  The current 30 minutes to check a cold vehicle and 15 minutes to check a hot vehicle is still actually in force.  When crews are called out on 999 calls before completion of the vehicle checks this causes stress and strain on crews. Lack of equipment can impact on patient safety. It has to cease.
  • Meal breaks or rest periods are falling well below acceptable levels of compliance and in far too many occasions staff are having extensive hours before a rest period or in some cases missing a rest period totally.  Management have employed Meal Break Managers to attempt to address this issue, but unfortunately due to ever increasing demands these Managers are helpless to offer improvements or solutions to the unacceptable poor delivery of rest period management.
  • End of shift over runs are causing extreme social problems, even with the goodwill of child minders, family, and friends, they are being stretched beyond comprehension.  Family bonds and relationships are coming under more pressure with social and family values failing on a frequent basis.  This is due to regularly enforced daily over runs of staff contracted hours of employment.
  • Patient Transport Services have been cut to the bone and are under ever growing pressure to ensure service delivery.  Investment is required to stop the PTS diminishing any further.
  • Ambulance Control Centres are understaffed in relation to how many vehicles each member of staff has to control compared to other Ambulance Trusts who offer far less specialised Services.  This impacts on everybody and increases stress in the ACC to still reach target times with limited resources.

Mick Conroy, GMB Scotland Senior Officer, said “We intend to notify the senior management, directors and Government Ministers of the result of this ballot.  We will continue to work in partnership to put pressure on the Scottish Government to increase the funding to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

In order for the service to move towards our 2020 vision we need a large investment from Scottish Government to increase our staff, and ensure we have enough resources across all grades to prevent the current impact on patients and on terms and conditions and work/life balance continuing.

If we cannot resolve these ongoing issues within a reasonable timescale we now have authority from members to commence a ballot for action that may include withdrawal of labour working under the laid down legal procedures for strike action taking into consideration current legislation.”

Gary Coll, GMB Scottish Ambulance Service Branch Convenor, added “We believe strongly the time has come to protest about the neglect of patients and the ongoing and systematic abuse of staff.

The Scottish Ambulance Service has many dedicated professional members of staff who care deeply about the public we aim to serve.  The job we signed up for has changed dramatically over the years and all grades of staff have come under increasing pressure each and every year and unfortunately the pressure and demands of the general Public now far exceeds the demands and needs of you the employee.

Somewhere along the line Management and Scottish Government have forgotten that the employees have family commitments, relationships and social needs, that at this time have come under increasing pressure due to overwhelming volumes of work. The Service has ignored members concerns whilst servicing the increasing demands of the general public, NHS 24, GP surgeries and hospital transfers.

We have listened to members vocal and written complaints increasingly over the last three years and despite our best attempts via Partnership meetings at local and national levels we are struggling to deliver the changes members need and demand to ensure an appropriate work life balance whilst serving the public of this country. 

We pride ourselves with protecting the interests of our members while at the same time realising we have a duty of care and responsibility to the public we are employed to serve. However, there has to be a balance between the overwhelming needs of the public and the family values and needs of our members and their families. We need to get that balance right for the benefit of the public and ambulance staff.”

End

Contact: Michael Conroy 07921 289737 or 0141 332 8641 or Gary Coll 07852 419753 or GMB press office 07921 289880

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