AMBULANCE service managers have de-recognised a trade union after a row over staffing changes.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service is introducing ‘emergency care assistants’ to work alongside paramedics as part of measures to save £46 million from its budget.
Recruits into the role have only basic first aid training, unlike paramedics who are trained for three years, and are unable to administer drugs or give injections.
Emergency care assistants were introduced nationally four years ago to ease the burden on paramedics by taking patients into hospital and driving ambulances.
Official guidance states they should be ‘guided by a qualified clinical practitioner’.
But trade union Unite fears that existing ambulance paramedics could have their jobs downgraded, and that widespread use of assistants instead of fully-qualified crew could ‘put lives at risk’.
After the union publicly campaigned against the move, management from the trust announced it was being de-recognised.
Unite’s head of health, Rachael Maskell, said: “They have de-recognised Unite, as the trade union representing paramedics and other ambulance staff, for raising concerns about the proposed shake-up.
“It appears that managers have something to hide and don’t want to engage with a legitimate trade union which has been speaking up on behalf of its ambulance staff members.”
A Yorkshire Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We would like to reassure members of the public that our emergency care assistants and assistant practitioners are trained to recognise patients with serious illnesses and injuries and are able to request immediate clinical support, should the need arise.”