Warning of more ambulance strikes

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UNION leaders representing South Yorkshire ambulance workers who walked out on strike in a row over patient safety have said they are willing to hold further talks in a bid to end the dispute.

Paramedics and other staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service are gathering for meetings next week to plan their next steps, following the day of industrial action on April 2.

Further strikes are not being ruled out.

Representatives of the Unite trade union are concerned about plans to introduce emergency care assistants to work alongside paramedics.

The move is part of proposals to save £46 million over the next five years.

Terry Cunliffe, Unite regional officer, said the offer of fresh talks had been met with a ‘stone wall of silence’.

But a spokeswoman for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said discussions in the run-up to the strike ‘led to no change’ in the union’s stance.

“Our members want a resolution, but not at the expense of patient safety,” said Mr Cunliffe.

“Our members will be holding meetings during the next week and, depending on what the consensus is, further strike action could be on the cards.”

Unite has been derecognised as a union by ambulance service chiefs.

The trust’s spokeswoman said: “They were unwilling to cancel their planned industrial action and did not agree to exempt key frontline staff from participating in the strike.

“Emergency care assistants do not replace clinicians. They are not expected to operate at the same level as a fully-qualified clinician.”