Ambulance patients experiencing delays

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Patients in Burnley are experiencing delays in waiting for ambulances in the face of a national pay dispute, according to the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Following on from last Monday’s full strike between 7am and 11am, staff are continuing with dispute related action, in the form of an overtime ban, which is resulting in some ambulance beings unable to go out on the road due to not having enough crews.

Paramedics in Burnley, based at the ambulance station in Trafalgar Street, joined NHS colleagues in striking on Monday over the Government’s 1% pay offer to some staff.

But NWAS Director of Operations, Derek Cartwright, said: “The ban is certainly having an impact on the Trust in terms of filling overtime and getting vehicles available to respond but more importantly, it is the patients who see the real impact when we don’t have enough ambulances on the road.

“This leads to delays in reaching those who need urgent emergency care. So we can reach as many patients as possible, we are having to rely on volunteer services to assist the Trust and while we are very grateful for their help, this is not an ideal situation.”

In Lancashire, 21 vehicles have been off the road since the overtime ban came into force.

The Trust is required to reach 75% of Red 1 and Red 2 incidents within eight minutes but on October 14th and 15th has only managed to achieve a performance of 70.7% for Red 1 and 71.9% for Red 2 incidents.

Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer, said: “The strike has arisen because of the Government’s overruling of the independent, NHS Pay Review Body’s (PRB) recommendation for a 1% consolidated pay rise across the board for all NHS staff.

“The intervention by Government means that the 1% will only be available to approximately 40% of NHS employees and it will not be consolidated in to basic pay.

“Government intervention is in stark contrast to its view when the independent Pay Review Body for MPs recommended that MPs should receive a pay rise of 11%. In that case the Government said it could not interfere with the recommendation because it had come from an independent body. Our members are angry as there seems to be one rule for MPs and a different rule for everyone else.”

Mr Cartwright added that the Trust relied “on the goodwill of staff” to volunteer for overtime shifts to cover sickness, annual leave and vacancies.

The 111 service is operating normally and the Trust’s Patient Transport Service has not seen any impact from extended action.

The Trust continues to ask the public to only call 999 in cases of life-threatening or serious emergencies and to consider seeking advice from GPs, the 111 service or for minor conditions, their local pharmacy.