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Ambulance strike action threat over change to shifts

Ambulances

Ambulances

Ambulance staff could stage a strike over planned changes to their shift patterns.

Unite the Union are balloting Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust staff after it was announced new rotas could see them working for 10 hours without a meal break.

Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “Our members, who are doing their best for the Yorkshire public in very difficult circumstances, have been under sustained attack by the trust’s hard-line management for more than a year.

“The latest erosion in their employment conditions is the demand to work elongated shifts which could mean them working more than ten hours on the trot before managers deign to give them a meal break. This could affect their ability to do their jobs.”

The Union is demanding a protected meal break for staff of 30 minutes after six hours. It also says there was no consultation with the union.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust chief executive David Whiting refuted the claims by Unite branding them as “misleading and factually incorrect”.

He said: “Changes to staff rotas and rest breaks have been agreed after a period of consultation with staff and Unison, following a detailed and comprehensive review of our service which took place throughout 2013.

“The new rotas will improve the allocation of rest breaks and the rest break period will be a minimum of 30 minutes during a 10-hour shift and 45 minutes during a 12-hour shift.”

He said staff welfare is a “key priority” to the trust and patient care is paramount. The ballot closes on Friday 24 January.

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