AMBULANCE workers in South Yorkshire have walked out on a 24-hour strike today in a row over staffing changes.
The Unite union, which represents about 10 per cent of the service’s workforce, or around 450 members of staff, claims the move would jeopardise patient care.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service has said it is trying to maintain care levels while having to make £46m of savings in five years.
David Whiting, YAS chief executive, said bosses had been in eleventh hour talks with union representatives over the Easter weekend but had failed to reach an agreement.
He said: “Unite the Union has confirmed that its members will not be responding to any 999 calls during the 24-hour period.
“I am deeply concerned over this type of action, which I believe will be of concern to all of our A&E staff, who are very committed to patient care, and will place many of them in a very difficult situation.
“We recognise the legal right for those of our staff who are members of the union to participate in industrial action, but our focus is to balance that right with the need to first safeguard patient care and safety. However, I do not believe that industrial action in this form is in the best interests of patients, and it is deeply concerning for a trade union representing ambulance service workers to strike without making any concessions to patient safety.
“Throughout the 24-hour period of the strike, and the continuous overtime ban, our focus will be on taking steps to maintain operational cover to sustain effective and safe services.”
Members of other unions are not involved in the action and will be providing emergency cover and other services.
Unite ambulance workers launched an overtime ban last week after voting in favour of industrial action in March.
Of the 212 union members who voted in the ballot, 61 per cent voted in favour of strike action and 83 per cent for other forms of industrial action.
Unite said the vote showed “the depth of concern” its members felt about patient safety.
The strike is due to end at 6am tomorrow.