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Ambulance chiefs hit back at union claims in Keighley
12:18pm Thursday 30th January 2014 in News
Ambulance bosses have hit back at claims that a lack of cover in the town is putting lives at risk.
And they have accused union chiefs of making “misleading and factually incorrect” allegations about changes to staff shift patterns and rest breaks.
Last week Unite regional officer, Terry Cunliffe, told the Keighley News the town’s ambulance station – in Hard Ings Road – was often unstaffed due to a lack of resources.
And he said emergency crews at Keighley were recently given just four days to accept revised rotas, including runs of eight shifts in succession, and faced reduced meal breaks.
Unite members have voted to stage a 24-hour strike on Saturday over the new shift patterns, and will hold a further four-hour walkout on Monday.
But the trust’s chief executive, David Whiting, refutes the union claims.
“Changes to rotas and rest breaks have been agreed after a period of consultation with staff and the Unison union – which followed a detailed and comprehensive review of our service throughout 2013,” he said.
“They are being introduced following agreement with staff and their representatives, and form part of changes we are making to improve our responsiveness for patients and increase operational efficiency.
“Staff welfare is a key priority for the trust, and whilst we have to ensure our staff are available to respond to emergencies, we balance this with adequate rest breaks.”
He said under the new arrangement, there would be a minimum rest break period of 30 minutes during a ten-hour shift and 45 minutes for a 12-hour stint.
Mr Whiting said: “In addition, the new arrangements will help to reduce shift over-runs and improve access to – and the allocation of – staff training.
“I would like to reiterate patient care and safety remain at the heart of everything we do.”
The trust said due to a “difficult and disappointing” working relationship with Unite, it decided last year to end voluntary recognition of the union for collective bargaining purposes. But it added through ACAS, it had continued to seek ongoing dialogue.
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