UNISON – the union for ambulance staff

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2012 Health Care Service Group Conference
16 December 2011

This conference notes the continued work of UNISON over the last twelve months on behalf of ambulance members including:

• Supporting ambulance branches to recruit and retain members;

• Promoting the profile of ambulance services and staff;

• Developing a coherent position on strategic industrial relations and workforce issues whilst maintaining constructive partnership and working relationship with ambulance employers in a hostile political environment;

• Providing updates and briefings to ambulance branches on negotiating, bargaining, health and safety and professional issues.

We note the work that went into organising and successfully holding the 2011 UNISON Ambulance Seminar and the role this played in preparing ambulance branches for the struggles over the last year, and the months ahead. This included the training of over twenty pensions champions.

However ambulance branches continue to work in a challenging environment with employers facing cost pressures and changes to funding arrangements, whilst at the same time being expected to provide an improved and extended range of care and services. This has led to employers attempting to extend the roles of staff without an improvement in their pay and grading. This is also having a detrimental effect on the health and welfare of ambulance staff, as they are expected to work longer and provide more and better services.

UNISON has continued in its struggle to protect the rights of Patient Transport Services staff, as these groups have increasingly moved to a mixed economy. We have fought to keep services in-house, whilst protecting the rights, terms and conditions of those staff that have been contracted out. For example UNISON is working with employers to keep the new “111” service in-house. However the Health and Social Care Bill and the Government policy of “Any Qualified Provider” could result in other areas of the ambulance service including 999 response provision coming under increased commercial threat.

Over the last twelve months UNISON has continued to maintain its position as the lead union for ambulance workers, building on its already high membership density. However this is no reason for complacency as UNISON continues to face aggressive competition from other unions.

This conference therefore calls on the Health Group Executive to

1)Provide support for ambulance branches in defending Agenda for Change Terms and Condition including the integrity of the Job Evaluation process;

2)Work in partnership with employers to maintain an integrated ambulance service and keep emergency services within the NHS, so that regardless of where they live the public can continue to receive the same high quality service;

3)Lobby to seek consensus on a standard commission for ambulance services;

4)Continue to work with other professional organisations such as the College of Paramedics to promote the roles of ambulance practitioners;

5)Continue to work with employers to improve the health and welfare of ambulance members;

6)Plan and prepare for the next UNISON Ambulance Seminar to be held in May 2013;

7)Continue to brief branches on negotiating, bargaining, health and safety and professional issues, and to support and assist them in the recruitment and retention of members.