Union bosses are to ballot ambulance staff on industrial action over what they claim are broken promises by under-fire Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The GMB, which represents thousands of staff in the service, says its members “cannot be expected to keep picking up the slack for government incompetence on promises to invest that they have failed to deliver.”
An overworked, underpaid and overstretched workforce
As a result the union has announced it will undertake a consultative ballot of members for a month starting on Friday over what action they are willing to take against “unfulfilled promises from the Secretary of State to improve pay and conditions for ambulance workers.”
GMB is asking for fair pay for ambulance staff, a safe and sensible retirement age, proper training and improved development and career progression.
Rehana Azam, GMB national officer for the NHS, said: “An overworked, underpaid and overstretched ambulance workforce cannot be expected to keep responding to 999 emergency calls, whiletheir government sits back and does nothing.
“The government promised to recognise the valuable skill set of ambulance staff.
“They promised to invest in the ambulance staff and service. The government has failed to live up to their promises.”
Steve Rice, GMB chairman of the Ambulance Committee, said “In 2015 we settled the pay dispute with the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt in good faith.
“Based on an offer with assurances that the recruitment and retention of ambulance staff would be looked at and the banding of staff will be addressed by recognising that the skill set of ambulance staff had changed and modernised.
“Nearly a year on we feel badly let down with an undelivered promise and a continued demand on the 999 emergency service.
“The GMB Ambulance Committee urges Jeremy Hunt to get round the table, otherwise a second dispute in the NHS will be his making and unavoidable.”