Special statement from UNISON Cymru Wales on ambulance tragedy

Fatal accident involving ambulance staff in North Wales has ‘devastated’ colleagues

The collision between two Welsh ambulances in North Wales yesterday has devastated both UNISON and all staff at the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST).

Three members of WAST staff went to work to help support patients in need yesterday and, if required, to save and preserve life. One very sadly never returned home and two others remain seriously injured in hospital.

One vehicle involved in the fatal accident yesterday was a patient transport vehicle. These vehicles drive around a million miles a year in Wales to transport some of our most vulnerable patients. Equipped with a defibrillator to save and preserve life, they are staffed by inspirational people.

The work of the patient transport service in Wales absolutely underpins much of the rest of the NHS in Wales.

UNISON pays tribute to all patient transport staff at WAST today, as they come to terms with the loss of a member of their team. We pay tribute to our colleague who died, to his service with WAST and to patients in Wales. We also offer all of our solidarity and support to his family at this harrowing time.

The other vehicle involved was an urgent care ambulance. Also equipped with a defibrillator to save and preserve life, they are equally staffed by inspirational people who are highly skilled at conveying patients who are very ill, where an emergency medical ambulance is not required.

The work of the urgent care service supports to a great extent the ability of WAST to respond to the most life-threatened patients. UNISON pays tribute to all urgent care staff at WAST today as they come to terms with the serious injuries of two members of their team.

UNISON would also pay tribute to Welsh Ambulance Service paramedics and technicians who came to the aid of their colleagues yesterday, as well as the two Welsh Air Ambulance helmed teams. There can be few more difficult  jobs to have to do than work to preserve the life of your colleagues.

The response across the UK has been inspirational. UNISON ambulance branches and personnel from every part of the UK have responded and passed on their prayers, solidarity, support and best wishes for the survivors. We would like to thank each and everyone today.

Yesterday was International Workers Memorial Day. It remembers all those workers, worldwide, who died in the line of duty, at work. Sadly and very poignantly one WAST colleague will be forever remembered in Wales.

Issued in the name of Margaret Thomas, Regional Secretary.

Contact: Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 538397.