Unison, Unite and GMB considering ballot of paramedics
AMBULANCE and paramedic staff could strike against the Tory government’s broken pay promises, the Unison union revealed yesterday on the first day of its health conference.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis made the announcement of a potential ballot for industrial action — alongside Unite and GMB — ahead of the first ever all-out strike by junior doctors in NHS history today.
Front-line emergency workers will be next on the picket line unless Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt honours his vows made last year that he will improve their pay and conditions, Mr Prentis told delegates at the Brighton conference.
Severe staffing shortages are caused by difficulty keeping hold of ambulance and paramedic workers who are under immense stress to meet targets while trying to balance the books, delegates said.
Jeff Pittman, of East of England Ambulance, said 55 per cent of vehicles in his region are used as “fast cars” to get community first responders on the scene — who are not medically trained and cannot take patients to hospital.
He added that, as well as pay disputes, “cumulative job stress” experienced by the medical staff is causing the NHS to “haemorrhage paramedics” at an alarming rate.
Mr Prentis reiterated the importance of emergency NHS staff that cannot be replaced by other hardworking first responders themselves under immense presssure, including the firefighters.
He said: “From car crashes to cardiac arrests, ambulance workers deserve respect for always being there and caring for the public.
“But this government has failed utterly to respect and honour its promises to ambulance staff.”
Mr Hunt was also accused of putting patients’ lives at risk by failing to reach a deal with junior doctors over pay and conditions.
“Jeremy Hunt should hang his head in shame, turning down the olive branch that has been shown to him,” said
Mr Prentis, who will join junior doctors on the picket line in Brighton today.
“NHS staff are saying to Jeremy Hunt that if he comes for their unsocial hours payments then they will fight back.
What we’ve seen from this government is nothing short of a war on staff, and on our NHS.”