Emergency services are currently under strain after a number of paramedics have gone on strike today.
The strike, which will last for 24-hours, comes after Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust proposed the introduction of emergency care assistants (ECAs) to work alongside more highly-trained paramedics.
Unite the Union, who has called for the strike, raised concerns over patient safety as an ECA receives only six weeks of training, while a paramedic undergoes a two-year degree course.
David Whiting, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “Our contingency plans are focused on providing a safe, responsive and high-quality emergency service to patients and this will always remain our top priority. We have been actively seeking to discuss with Unite the Union how patients can be protected during the strike through a number of exemptions, to ensure Unite members continue to respond to 999 patients, prior to this industrial action taking place.
“Our willingness to engage with Unite the Union has meant that senior officials from the Trust have been in regular contact with Unite, supported by ACAS, throughout the Easter period. Unfortunately, these talks have not resulted in any exemptions, so 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.”
Despite less than 10 per cent of paramedics actually being on strike, the Industrial action taken by Unite and its members will put a strain on services across the district.
The Trust is therefore reminding the residents to use the service ‘wisely’ and only for ‘serious and life-threatening conditions’.
Anyone requiring advice or treatment for a non-emergency situation or minor ailment considers options such as self-care, a visit to a local pharmacist, GP surgery or walk-in centre.
Whiting added: “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.”
The strike will end on April 3 at 6am.