Yorkshire ambulance workers in Unite strike ballot

Yorkshire ambulance workers could take strike action in a dispute over staff changes and derecognition of the UK's largest union.

Unite is concerned about plans by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to introduce assistants with six weeks of training to work with paramedics.

It said it was being derecognised to stop it raising its concerns.

The trust said its relationship with Unite had been disappointing and patient safety was its top priority.

Unite said it was beginning the legal process to ballot its 450 paramedics and other ambulance staff members for strike action or industrial action short of a strike.

The result could be known by the end of the month.

'Difficult decisions'

The union said the introduction of the emergency care assistants (ECAs) had "resulted in managers currently deploying unqualified staff to emergencies with, in some cases, other ECAs or unqualified assistant practitioners".

It said: "The trust currently has over 300 staff who will be demoted and de-skilled as a result of the plans being introduced and the majority of these staff will have little or no opportunity of further training for at least seven years."

The trust said it had decided to cease to voluntarily recognise Unite for the purposes of collective bargaining but would continue to work with Unison.

Chief executive David Whiting said: "Unfortunately the working relationship with Unite the union remains disappointing.

"We have not received a constructive contribution to the difficult decisions that the trust has been required to make for the future, particularly as we seek to maintain high quality care for patients against the realities of the tough economic climate.

"I would like to reassure members of the public that all our decisions are focused on continuing to deliver a high quality and responsive service to patients and this will always remain our top priority."

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