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by Katie Mackintosh
30 October 2014
Ambulance chief not expecting strike action

Ambulance chief not expecting strike action

Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, Pauline Howie has told Holyrood that she is not expecting industrial action and said the service will “work through” issues with staff.

She also insisted that patient safety “is right at the heart” of everything they do.

Howie's comments follow an article published by the Daily Record that quoted GMB union organiser Michael Conroy as saying that ambulance staff are “demoralised” and if reassurances aren’t provided quickly to address “poor” working conditions and concerns over patient safety then he will have “no hesitation in balloting members about industrial action.”

However, sitting down with Holyrood on the day the claims were published, Howie said she was “surprised” by the story as they have had no indication from staff directly that industrial action is planned.

“The Daily Record highlighted that there hasn’t been a strike for 25 years so I wouldn’t be expecting a strike. We have got robust processes in place for staff engagement and we will work through this.”

The article follows “ongoing” communications with staff confirming what the service believes its budget will be for the next year, she explained. While she said the service is “busier than ever”, she added that in common with other parts of the NHS the Scottish Ambulance Service will be required to find efficiency savings of around 4 per cent again next year to reinvest in new ways of working.

“We work with our staff in terms of how to we square the financial reality with where we are trying to get to in terms of those new ways of working. We go through a process of coming up with areas where we might look to drive out waste and variation, which can be inefficient, and where we need to move resources into other areas in order to take more care to the patient.

“…Our local intelligence would suggest that whilst that is going to be really challenging, our staff side has committed to working with us in terms of trying to find a way through,” she added.

The full interview will be published in the next issue of Holyrood magazine. 

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