Ambulance dispute flares

Ambulance service chiefs say they have invested significantly in the North Division
Ambulance service chiefs say they have invested significantly in the North Division

Unite union members among ambulance staff in the north of Scotland have voted to start an official dispute over ongoing concerns about the service.

Ninety five per cent of members who voted said they had no confidence in the North Divisional management of the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), and instructed Unite to register a formal dispute.

Over the last few months, Unite says it has repeatedly asked the ambulance service to take action on vehicles not being available for emergency calls because they are being used for non-emergency patient transfers.

Union leaders have also raised concerns about staff consistently working over their scheduled hours and suffering from fatigue.

Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said: “Every time we have raised these issues, and every time that a serious incident has been reported in the media, the management of the service have come up with words and spin.

“But our members see these problems every day. They want to deliver a safe, appropriate service to the public across the whole of the north of Scotland, but they have lost confidence in the ability of management to support them.”

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “We have invested significantly in our North Division over the last few years with over 100 extra staff being recruited, 52 of these in the past year, which is an 8% increase.

“There is more we want to do and this is why we have been working closely with our staff, Unite other staff partners and local health boards.”