AMBULANCE workers union GMB have called for the chief executive of the South West Ambulance Service to quit as they ‘struggle to maintain a crumbling service’.
GMB union members from South West Ambulance Service (SWASFT) have written a letter ‘apologising’ to the public for ‘potentially putting them at risk’. They have told chief executive Ken Wenman government cuts have led to ‘despair and frustration’ among staff.
The open letter was addressed as an ‘apology to our families, friends and the community’. To the public, they said they were ‘sorry for not getting to you or your loved ones quick enough because there are just not enough of us.’
They also apologised to family and friends for times when they missed ‘yet another family occasion’.
They also wrote that they felt ‘unsupported’ by their employer SWASFT. The dispute, which is escalating, is all about changes to rotas as well as concern from members that they are having to work for longer than their usual 12-hour shift.
GMB is not recognised by SWASFT. However, the union is determined to recruit more members to take them above the 25% figure that would force recognition. Unison is also extremely concerned about workload, especially with the extra demands on their service due to problems with the out -of-hours service in Somerset, and closure at night of Weston A&E unit.
Gary Palmer, from the GMB, said: ‘We felt this recent letter on behalf of a group of GMB members particularly summed up the general despair and frustration many staff currently feel from working within a service and role they love.’
Meanwhile a woman has had to wait almost two hours for an ambulance after falling and hitting her head in Ludlow, Shropshire. Ludlow councillor Andy Boddington said the woman was left to lie in the street covered by umbrellas until the ambulance arrived. He said it shows the NHS in rural areas is ‘broken’.