Second union in no vote to North East A&E plans

Ambulance employees from a second leading union have rejected controversial plans to shake up emergency services in the region

An ambulance
An ambulance

Ambulance employees from a second leading union have rejected controversial plans to shake up emergency services in the region.

As reported in The Journal, members of Unison voted against the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) NHS Foundation Trust’s A&E review.

Part of the plans include changing the way the trust operates, with a “non-emergency” tier of ambulances introduced to deal with calls not classed as 999 emergencies.

These vehicles, which would not be staffed by a paramedic, are aimed at dealing with GP and hospital transfers.

The trade union GMB has confirmed that it too has held a consultative ballot, where its members rejected NEAS’s proposals that are scheduled to come into force later this year.

Many of the concerns raised by members of the union relate to the proposed new rotas and relief weeks affecting crews. Suzanne Reid, GMB organiser in the North East said: “Morale really is at its lowest at the moment.

“Everybody at the trust understands that now and again they may finish work late, but regular late returns is really getting people down.

“Our members have shown clear dissatisfaction at the A&E review and that they would be willing to talk through their concerns with the trust. We, of course, always hope to resolve negative issues but if this does not happen then we will be taking an official ballot.”

A meeting between the unions and NEAS has been scheduled for next week in the hope of ironing out any concerns. NEAS insists that the proposed A&E changes will result in more jobs and additional ambulances. Talks remain ongoing between unions and the trust.

A spokeswoman for NEAS said: “Unison and GMB members within NEAS were asked to give their view in an indicative poll on whether our proposals on how emergency care crews are organised were acceptable.

“The proposed changes would result in 67 additional staff and nine extra ambulances across the North East to respond to GP and hospital transfers.

“We believe this would improve the already high standard of care NEAS provides to patients.

“Both unions have informed us that those who participated in the recent poll were not in favour.

“A meeting was already scheduled with union representatives for May 3 to discuss the outcome of the indicative poll and the next steps. No ballot on industrial action has taken place.”

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