Ambulance staff in strike ballot

PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 December 2010

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Archant

AMBULANCE crews in North Somerset could take industrial action in a row over a change to their shifts.

Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) staff are being balloted for strike action by Unison amid concerns over new working hours.

Members claim the changes would remove crews’ rights to two unpaid rest breaks and result in shifts lasting a minimum 12 hours.

Staff also fear the changes would ‘slim down’ ambulance cover at non-peak times in towns such as Weston.

UNISON branch officer Shane Clark said: “We want our patients to get the best possible care from ambulance crews.

“It is not acceptable for crews to be forced to report for duty without adequate rest before shifts, nor for crews to be driving on blue lights for long shifts without rest breaks.

“The employers must listen to our members’ concerns.”

Members of the GWAS branch of the union in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the former Avon area have already voiced a lack of confidence in the proposed changes in a survey last month.

But GWAS chief executive, David Whiting, said the changes of work patterns were necessary to ensuring resources were available in an emergency.

He said: “Many staff have worked hard with us to find ways of making these adjustments and have made them.

“The changes we are making are simply about ensuring we have the right number of staff and vehicles available when patients ring 999.

“These changes will benefit patients by saving more lives and benefit our staff by sharing workload and creating job security.”

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