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GMB Ballot Ambulance Staff

Monday, April 25, 2016

GMB BALLOT AMBULANCE STAFF OVER BROKEN PROMISES BY JEREMY HUNT

Ambulance staff cannot be expected to keep picking up the slack for government incompetence on promises to invest that they have failed to deliver says GMB

GMB, the union for ambulance staff, will undertake a consultative ballot of members working in the ambulance service between Friday 29th April and Wednesday 25th May, 2016. (See notes to editors for GMB press releases about ambulance staff).

The consultative ballot will ask GMB members in the ambulance service what action they are willing to take against unfulfilled promises from Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to improve pay and conditions for ambulance workers.

GMB is asking for fair pay, a safe and sensible retirement age, proper training and improved development and career progression for ambulance drivers.

Rehana Azam, GMB national officer for the NHS, said "An overworked, underpaid and overstretched ambulance workforce cannot be expected to keep responding to 999 emergency calls, whilst their government sits back and does nothing. The government promised to recognise the valuable skill set of ambulance staff. They promised to invest in the ambulance staff and service. The government has failed to live up to their promises.

GMB and other unions have been left with no alternative but to announce a consultative ballot of ambulance staff in England with the potential for an industrial action ballot in the near future. Professional ambulance staff cannot be expected to keep picking up the slack for government incompetence on promises to invest that they have failed to deliver.

Back in 2015, in a desperate effort to conclude the pay dispute of 2014/15, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, agreed to a review of the banding system in place to recognise the skill set of ambulance staff. The government’s failure to follow through has not been received well by ambulance staff.

GMB members in the ambulance service are increasingly losing their patience with government. With demand on the NHS at an all time high, it’s the ambulance staff that have endured the worst conditions in responding to life threatening 999 emergencies; often having to administer care longer, unable to hand over patients to A&E's due to the lack of capacity. With the depleted numbers in ambulance staff, a shrinking workforce has to respond to increasing demands. These demands are increasing the numbers of cases of stress with staff morale at rock bottom.

GMB calls on the government to prioritise the delivery of the 2015 promises and set out a detailed plan for how they will deliver on them. Otherwise, an industrial action ballot timetable in the ambulance service will be unavoidable."

Steve Rice, GMB Chair of the Ambulance Committee, said "I have worked in the ambulance service for over 30 years. Ambulance staff are heartily sick and tired of being pushed around and say 'enough is enough'. In 2015 we settled the pay dispute with the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt in good faith. Based on an offer with assurances that the recruitment and retention of ambulance staff would be looked at and the banding of staff will be addressed by recognising that the skill set of ambulance staff had changed and modernised. Nearly a year on we feel badly let down with an undelivered promise and a continued demand on the 999 emergency service. The GMB Ambulance Committee urges Jeremy Hunt to get round the table, otherwise a second dispute in the NHS in addition to the junior doctors will be his making and unavoidable."

End

Contact: Rehana Azam on 07841 181656 or GMB press office on 07970 863411 or 07739 182691

Notes to editors

1 GMB press release dated Thursday, March 10, 2016

GMB analysis shows 30% of life or death emergency calls are not responded to within 8 minutes

Proper investment and full recognition of skills is needed to solve the problems around the recruitment and retention of ambulance staff says GMB.

GMB, the union for ambulance staff, has analysed new data that shows ambulance services across England are consistently failing to achieve vital targets set for response times.

According to data for January Red 1 emergency calls, those involving life threatening respiratory or heart issues, were responded to within 8 minutes only 69.9% of the time. This amounts to almost 5,000 emergency calls that were not reached within 8 minutes.

For Red 2 calls, all other life threatening emergencies, only 63.3% of calls were responded to within 8 minutes amounting to 107,582 emergency calls that missed the vital 8 minute window.

The target for these categories of emergencies is to reach patients within 8 minutes at least 75% of the time. January is the 8th consecutive month in which the UK ambulance service has not met targets set for red 1 emergencies.

PERFORMANCE TARGETS FOR AMBULANCE TRUSTS IN ENGLAND FOR JAN 2016 COMPARED TO JAN 2016

 

Red 1 - proportion

responded to in 8 mins

Red 2 - proportion

responded to in 8 mins

 

Jan-15

Jan-16

Change

Jan-15

Jan-16

Change

England

71.6%

69.9%

-1.7%

67.6%

63.3%

-4.2%

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

68.5%

61.7%

-6.8%

65.1%

49.6%

-15.5%

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust

73.5%

69.6%

-3.9%

64.9%

58.3%

-6.7%

Isle of Wight NHS Trust

77.8%

60.4%

-17.4%

75.7%

75.1%

-0.6%

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust

68.6%

67.4%

-1.2%

59.9%

60.9%

1.1%

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

71.1%

62.9%

-8.2%

75.2%

61.2%

-14.0%

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust

65.5%

69.3%

3.8%

65.5%

63.5%

-2.0%

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

75.5%

71.9%

-3.6%

76.8%

71.1%

-5.6%

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

76.4%

72.0%

-4.4%

69.9%

62.8%

-7.2%

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

74.9%

71.9%

-3.0%

67.9%

60.6%

-7.3%

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

75.3%

77.8%

2.6%

74.0%

74.7%

0.7%

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

70.6%

69.0%

-1.6%

67.2%

71.9%

4.6%

Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer for NHS staffs, said "The situation is at critical when 30% of life or death emergency calls are not responded to within 8 minutes. The government has created conditions which mean the public now have to wait longer for the ambulance service to respond.

High vacancy rates and staff shortages mean existing staff have to shoulder more responsibility and crews responding to 999 calls are not adequately staffed. The service needs if we are to retain staff. The current leaving rate in England of 6.1% for qualified ambulance staff is outstripping the joining rate of 4.3%. The situation is getting worse.

With vacancy levels at over 1,200 in the ambulance service, the Government must act fast if they want to seriously try and hit the response time targets. Jeremy Hunt is acting irresponsibly, proper investment and full recognition of skills is needed to solve the problems around the recruitment and retention of ambulance staff."

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