GMB Scotland Warns STUC Of ‘Chronic Underfunding’ Consequences Across The Scottish Ambulance Service
The current state of the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) is putting lives at risk says GMB Scotland.
SAS is chronically under resourced with staff regularly working 12 hour shifts with little to no breaks. Scotland has the only ambulance service in the UK that still has staff working on call. In some regions staff are working 12 hour shifts followed by 12 hours on call for just £18 for a 12 hour on call period.
GMB Scotland moved to highlight the problems across SAS and, supported by the STUC, called on the Scottish Government to ensure the proposed funding is received by SAS and call on further funding to be used not only to plug gaps and put out fires but to build a gold star service where both staff and the public are treated with dignity, support and respect. (See notes for a copy of the motion delivered to STUC conference).
Karen Leonard, GMB regional officer, said “The £18 on call sum is nothing compared to the disruption to people’s lives that these shift patterns are causing. Staff are currently undertaking a stress survey to highlight how overworked, underpaid, under resourced they are.
It is not just staff who are suffering but the public too. Too regularly staff are not getting the opportunity to do a vehicle daily inspection. This means they are unable to ensure the ambulance is checked for both stock and safety. This has led to both road accidents and understocked ambulances putting patients’ lives at risk.
Such a vital public service should not be run as a bare bones service, pushing staff to their limit in every shift. One member told GMB that they joined SAS in 1987 and are now facing lower pay and worse conditions than they were 30 years ago.
To add insult to injury, banding in Scotland means that SAS employees are being paid less than their counterparts in the rest of the UK.”
Contact: Peter Welsh, GMB Scotland Communications, on 07976 447077
Notes to editors
See below a copy of Motion 54: Scottish Ambulance Service, delivered to STUC conference on Tuesday 19 April.
54. Scottish Ambulance Service
“That this Congress notes that the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) is at the point of crisis, with staff facing hazardous working conditions on terms and conditions inferior to their counterparts in the rest of the UK. GMB’s 1200 members in the SAS late last year voted in favour of official strike ballot to force the service to tackle the systematic abuse of workers due to a shortage of capacity.
“Congress notes that the effects of these shortages include:
- SAS workers working 12 hour shifts with little or no breaks, including no time for rest or even meals;
- daily over-runs of staff contracted hours of employment causing deeply harmful social problems and strain in personal relationships;
- appropriate resources, such as patient transport vehicles being unavailable, leaving lone workers to cope with the stress and upset of family members who feel abandoned;
- large numbers of paramedic response unit operators are suffering stress levels leading to long term sick leave and even resignation; and
- workers being sent out on 999 calls in ambulances which have not been checked or restocked, with equipment missing, putting patient lives in danger.
“Congress, therefore, calls for the STUC General Council to:
- support GMB’s campaign to survey and tackle the causes and effects of occupational stress in SAS;
- support GMB’s campaign to throw out SAS’s on-call policy, as has been done in the rest of the UK, with the acknowledgement that it puts both workers and the general public at risk; and
- call on the Scottish Government to ensure the proposed funding is received by SAS and call on further funding to be used, not only to plug gaps and put out fires, but to build a first rate service where both staff and the public are treated with dignity, support and respect.”
Mover: GMB Scotland