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Fears for patients in Yorkshire ambulance shake-up
A planned shake-up of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service will jeopardise patient care, says a trade union.
Ambulance staff serving the area were given details of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s plan to change its accident and emergency services.
The proposed changes, which the trust says have been developed following consultation and negotiation with recognised trade unions, UNISON and Unite, are aimed at ensuring the region’s ambulance service delivers the best possible clinical outcomes for patients and achieves a sustainable level of performance in response to emergencies and balances its budget.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust says its plan focuses on significantly increasing its number of qualified paramedics over the next five years and retaining a tier of paramedics with additional clinical skills.
In addition, the Trust says it plans to build upon its current clinical support worker arrangements by introducing a role, known as an emergency care assistant, to work alongside paramedics on ambulances.
The Yorkshire Ambulance Service says it is trained to deliver an appropriate level of clinical support to paramedic colleagues and to undertake emergency “blue light” response driving.
But in a statement, the country’s largest trade union, Unite, claimed the shake-up was “all about cost-cutting and nothing about improving patient care”.
Unite spoke out on the use of emergency care assistants, which it says is part of a bid to save £46 million over the next five years.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe said: “Currently paramedics undergo a two-year degree course to equip them with the correct skills to respond to patients. The new proposed emergency care assistant role will be responding to emergencies with only six weeks’ training.
“This could lead to situations, such as multiple car crashes and house fires, when the emergency care assistants won’t have the necessary skills to support the paramedics.”
Unite further claimed more than 300 Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff could be demoted and deskilled as a result of the proposals. It called for a rethink.
The trust maintains the proposals will ensure there will be no reduction in the overall number of staff working on the A&E emergency service and no compulsory redundancies.