Proposed changes to the emergency ambulance staffing could jeopardise patient care, a trade union has warned.
Unite has spoken out against proposals made by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) NHS Trust, claiming the changes are about cost-cutting, not patient care.
One of the key proposals is to introduce Emergency Care Assistants, who will work alongside paramedics on ambulances and are trained in emergency ‘blue light’ response driving.
However union officials claim the new role will see emergency care assistants responding to emergencies after only six weeks training, in comparison to the two-year degree course paramedics take.
Regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “This could lead to situations, such as multiple car crashes and house fires, when the emergency care assistants won’t have the necessary skills to support the paramedics.”
The Trust said the plans, revealed to staff on Monday, mean there will be no reduction in the overall number of staff working on the A&E emergency service and no compulsory redundancies.
It added that the proposed changes would ensure both good clinical outcomes and emergency response and balanced budgets between now and 2018. However Unite said the Trust’s bid to save £46 million over the next five years would lead to a decreased level of clinical response and compromised patient care.