Fresh strikes planned at ambulance service

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Ambulance workers in South Yorkshire are set to walk out on two five-hour strikes amid a continuing row over shift patterns.

Members of the Unite trade union at Yorkshire Ambulance Service are taking industrial action on Friday and next Monday over the introduction of longer shifts.

The strikes will be held from 3pm to 8pm on both days.

Union leaders say the new hours could mean staff working for 10 hours without a meal break, and want a protected break of 30 minutes after six hours.

Unite is also unhappy about cuts to the service’s budget, the use of private ambulance firms, and the level of training given to new emergency care assistants.

Members previously walked out four times in February, and twice last year.

The union Unison - which represents more staff than Unite at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust - has also expressed concerns and passed a vote of no confidence in chief executive David Whiting.

Terry Cunliffe, Unite regional officer, said: “We do understand that there will be public concern about the latest strike action.

“This action could still be avoided if the chief executive would agree to joint negotiations with Unite and Unison to address their joint concerns.”

Before the last strike, Ian Brandwood, the trust’s executive director of HR, said industrial action was ‘not in the best interests of patients’.

“We remain committed to providing a safe, responsive and high-quality emergency service,” said Mr Brandwood.

“We would like to remind members of the public to use our services wisely and ask that people only call 999 for an ambulance when someone has a life-threatening or serious illness or injury.”