THE Ambulance Service could go on strike after the GMB Union launched an official vote over pay issues.
The union says ambulance trusts across the country are chronically underfunded and their members are at “stress point”.
The vote comes after a consultative vote in which over 90 per cent of GMB members voted to opt out of the poverty pension.
Election dates for the South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) and other Ambulance Trusts will be announced in the coming days.
Lib Whitfield, GMB regional organizer, said: “The service, which is provided by Ambulance Trusts across the country, is chronically underfunded and staff have been at a breaking point for too long with no signs of changing.
“Recent CQC reports have been far from flattering to the management of these services and it is only thanks to the goodwill of the overworked and underrated crews that the service continues to be as responsive as it is.
“GMB members are at a breaking point and another year of not being able to pay their bills is a step too far for many.”
According to the GMB, workers are angered by the government’s imposed wage premium of 4 per cent, which “faces them with another massive pay cut”.
A report released in June by the Care Quality Commission, England’s independent regulator of health and social care, found serious problems at the trust.
The vote is about pay concerns rather than Secamb’s CQC report.
The report described a “worrying level” of concern in the culture of the trust – after issues raised by staff were ignored.
The February inspection found that managers are “out of touch” with frontline staff and do not understand the challenges within the service.
Concerns were also raised about bullying, harassment, inappropriate sexualized behavior, open grievances, and inadequate training.
Secamb announced an interim CEO, Siobhan Melia, who has a “strong” clinical background and will take up the position on July 12.
Interim CEO Fiona Moore said in June that the executive team “will do everything we can to make Secamb a better place to work.”
The report noted the excellent care provided by staff and “their kind, compassionate and supportive approach to patients.”
It also received a “good” rating for its NHS 111 service after two years of the pandemic, which put “significant strain” on the service.
GMB Union has announced formal ballots in all ten Ambulance Trusts in England.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We’re giving over a million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, as recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body.
“Industrial action is a matter for unions and we urge them to carefully consider the potential impact on patients.”
Secamb serves more than five million people across Sussex, Surrey and Kent and employs more than 4,500 people across 110 locations.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23039587.secamb-vote-strike-action-gmb-launches-ballot/?ref=rss Secamb votes on strike action as GMB starts voting