Safety fears in Sheffield over proposed YAS cuts

17 Dec 2014....Unite the Union's Maggie Hazelhurst with a 6ft Christmas  tree in Sheffield which has been covered with messages of support from the public.The union is demanding that MP's investigate patient safety risks at Yorkshire Ambulance Service.Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/26a

17 Dec 2014....Unite the Union's Maggie Hazelhurst with a 6ft Christmas tree in Sheffield which has been covered with messages of support from the public.The union is demanding that MP's investigate patient safety risks at Yorkshire Ambulance Service.Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/26a

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A six-foot cardboard Christmas tree covered in messages stood tall in Sheffield as part of a campaign against ambulance service cuts.

Unite’s tree on Stannington Road, Stannington was decorated with messages of support for its campaign against proposed cuts to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

The union said paramedic whistleblowers had revealed plans to cut the ambulance fleet by ten per cent and staff levels by five per cent by 2018 - sparking fears over patient safety. It also claimed there are plans to use unqualified staff on emergency call-outs and said the board took disciplinary action against the Unite members who made the proposals public.

Maggie Hazlehurst, a senior organiser for Unite, said: “We were getting our message out there calling for an investigation by MPs because we are really concerned about patient safety.

“The campaign will go on. We have just launched a whistleblower hotline for patients and staff members at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust and that’s been inundated with calls since we launched last week.”

Ian Brandwood of the Trust said: “Patients’ needs are at the heart of everything we do and our absolute focus is to ensure that we continue to deliver a safe, responsive and high quality service to our patients.

“We refute the misleading claims Unite has made around patient safety, the role of Emergency Care Assistants, and the Trust’s longer-term plans.

“Despite their campaign against us we have tried to work with them to ensure we have a better relationship yet they are failing to deliver on commitments they made and have consistently ignored calls to meet with us.”

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