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: 12113  : 25.12.2021 07:54 GMT


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Ambulance crew changes spark union safety fears

Unions have branded plans to change working patterns for Scottish Ambulance Service workers a "safety concern".

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A new contingency plan would see more ambulances staffed by only one trained medic and a driver, while workers' breaks would also be cut.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said the changes would only happen in the event of "extreme pressures and potential staff absence in the coming weeks".

But unions said the proposals should be a concern for staff and the public.

Under the plans first reported by The Courier, some ambulances would be operated by a single clinician and a driver, including military drivers.

Some ambulances would also be staffed by trainee ambulance workers paired with a military driver, meaning they would not be able to respond to the most serious cases or drive to hospitals under "blue light" conditions.

Staff would also be asked to take one rest break rather than two if demand on the service was extremely high, according to a memo issued by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Kieran Whitford, a paramedic working in Aberdeen, wrote on Twitter that he was "broken" and said the changes meant staff had been "made to feel like we are worth nothing".

GMB Scotland organiser Karen Leonard said: "Management's proposals will do more harm than good and GMB members will not support them.

"They will split and exacerbate already insufficient levels of skilled staff and unsustainable working time demands, and frankly pose serious questions for the health and safety of both staff and patients.

"After working in a state of fear for nearly two years, staff are angry and exhausted and it's time ministers and management worked with them rather than against them."

The proposed working pattern changes come as an extra 90 military personnel are being drafted in to support under-pressure health boards.