latest health care news


Unison ballots East of England Ambulance Service staff over overrunning shifts

Unison is balloting East of England Ambulance Service staff over possible strike action in protest at excessive working hours.

Unison has been in negotiations for six weeks with the trust. It said that in December 2015, 2,995 shifts at the service finished over an hour later than planned, and in January 2016 this rose to 3,639 shifts.

The union said this was leading to crews having to work 13-18 hour shifts with a 30-minute lunch break, instead of the 12-hour shift with a 45-minute lunchbreak they were entitled to.

Fraer Stevenson, branch secretary at Unison, said: “After a year of broken promises, our crews are still faced with unacceptable working conditions.

“Frontline staff are caring people, committed to providing excellent patient care but they’re human beings too and they need to be cared for by their employer.”

She said the pressure of longer working hours meant many ambulance staff were already leaving their jobs or saying they wanted to do so.

Unison is asking for a 45-minute meal break, a 20-minute additional break later in the shift, and for crews to be able to return to base at the end of their shift and only be asked to attend the highest category of calls while en route.

Unison, along with fellow unions GMB and Unite, announced recently that it is considering mass strikes of ambulance workers over pay freezes and grading.

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “The trust is committed to working with Unison to develop sound and sustainable working practices to ensure staff welfare whilst maintaining excellent patient safety.

“Both sides have been working incredibly hard to tackle this issue for the benefit of staff and patients. Whilst we are disappointed that Unison has taken the decision to ballot staff, we would urge Unison to take up our offer of approaching Acas to facilitate a mediated and final joint resolution – tackling this issue for the benefit of staff and patients is vital and we must work together to make progress.”

It emerged last year that East of England Ambulance Service downgraded nearly 10,000 999 calls without authorisation.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.



There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

Terry John, co-chair of the BMA & BDA Refugee Doctors and Dentists Liaison Group and chair of the union’s international committee, talks about a brilliant initiative that is proving mutual more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News


Make doing the right thing easy

11/10/2017Make doing the right thing easy

Kay Currie, professor of Nursing & Applied Healthcare Research, ‘... more >
STAR: an innovative app for speech therapy

11/10/2017STAR: an innovative app for speech therapy

Dr Stuart Cunningham, a senior lecturer in Human Communication Sciences at ... more >


Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the U... more >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

A new paradigm for public health

10/11/2017A new paradigm for public health

Heather Henry RN MBA, Queens nurse and chair of the New NHS Alliance looks into the issue of health inequality in the NHS. Health inequality is like the many-headed hydr... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

healthcare events

events calendar


November 2017

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >