Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff stage third strike

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Ambulance staff are staging a third strike in protest against new shift patterns.

Unite union members at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust walked out for five hours from 15:00 GMT.

The union claims proposed longer shift patterns could lead to staff working for up to 10 hours without a meal break.

The trust branded earlier industrial action "reckless" and not in the "best interests" of patients.

Union members took industrial action for a period of 24 hours on 1 February, and for four hours on 3 February.

'Unsafe' shifts

A fourth walk-out is planned between 15:00 and 20:00 on Monday.

Terry Cunliffe, regional officer with Unite, said: "The latest strikes over elongated shift patterns follow the latest refusal of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to meet Unite to resolve the dispute."

The union believes new shift patterns would be "unsafe" for staff and impact on patient care, but the trust denies this.

Unite has called for an independent inquiry by the Care Quality Commission into the long-running dispute.

David Whiting, chief executive at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: "Our plans to maintain high standards of patient care and minimise any impact from previous episodes of strike action were effective and we have taken steps to ensure our service remains just as resilient this time."

He said the previous action had involved fewer than 2% of the trust's staff.

Unite represents about 8% of the trust's total workforce.

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