Talks offered in Yorkshire Ambulance Service dispute

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Ambulance service bosses have refused talks to end a dispute over staffing changes and the de-recognition of a union.

Unite members at Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) who took part in a one-day strike on earlier this month will now consider whether to take further action.

They have also been taking part in a continuous ban on overtime since March 26.

Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “Our offer to hold talks with the trust’s senior executives has been met by a stone wall of silence, which the Yorkshire public may find surprising given that the key issue here is patient safety.”

The union balloted members last month after YAS bosses decided they would no longer recognise Unite during negotiations.

It followed union claims that plans to save £46m over five years by bringing in semi-skilled care assistants to work alongside paramedics would put patients at risk.

But a spokeswoman for YAS today said earlier talks facilitated by ACAS had failed to stop strike action.

“These discussions, including face-to-face meetings, led to no change in Unite’s stance,” she said.

“They were unwilling to cancel their planned industrial action and did not agree to exempt key frontline staff from participating in the strike.”

She said the decision to take action was evidence of the ‘unconstructive approach’ which had led to Unite’s derecognition.

Mr Cunliffe said: “Our members want a resolution, but not at the expense of patient safety. To achieve this means addressing the underlying issues which are the derecognition of Unite and discussing the workforce plan.

“Our members will be holding meetings during the next week and, depending on what the consensus is, further strike action could be on the cards.”

But YAS has insisted throughout the dispute that its workforce plans will not affect patient safety.

The spokeswoman said: “Emergency Care Assistants do not replace clinicians. They are not expected to operate at the same level as a fully-qualified clinician and the training they receive is wholly appropriate to the role they are required to deliver.

“All of these staff perform a highly valued and important part of the delivery of our emergency ambulance service and continuing to suggest that such capable and committed staff would have a negative impact upon patient safety is unfounded.”