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Ambulance trust halts controversial change to staff rotas

PUBLISHED: 21:25 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 22:57 04 October 2018

Stock photo of an ambulance. Picture: Archant Library.

Stock photo of an ambulance. Picture: Archant Library.

A controversial change to rotas at the region’s ambulance trust has been halted after staff raised concerns about the impact on their work-life balance.

East of England Ambulance Trust had been looking at how it could change staff rotas to “better balance the needs of patients and our staff”.

But speaking to this newspaper previously staff members slammed proposed changes which would mean employees who would previously work the same shift pattern, at the same station, could now be sent to any station to fill gaps in rotas.

At the time one paramedic, who had 10 years of experience, said conditions were “brutal”

And last week outgoing chief executive Robert Morton told a board of directors meeting the process of changing rotas, known as building better rotas, was on track.

Now, the trust is looking into different ways of approaching the rota issues and relief working.

Unison regional organiser Sam Older said: “We welcome East of England Ambulance Service Trust’s decision to pause its discussions on changing staff rotas while it explores options for rota changes that other ambulance trusts are considering and have now come to the attention of EEAST.

“Ambulance staff are rightly concerned about the affect changes to their rotas could have on their work-life balance and want to ensure that rotas are fair and equitable while making sure the trust can retain and recruit staff.

“UNISON will continue to work with EEAST to ensure these vital public servants get acceptable rotas, allowing them to get on with the job they signed up for: saving people’s lives.”

The move was agreed yesterday (October 3) at a staff partnership forum.

Initial proposals were due to be put to a vote this month but this has now been put on hold while bosses look at how another ambulance trust, South Central Ambulance Service, is changing its rotas.

An EEAST spokesman said: “Our trust and Unison colleagues had a really productive staff partnership forum this week and discussed concerns from staff. We agreed to jointly explore options about relief working and planning that the wider ambulance sector is considering implementing, and recognised staff would prefer not to vote on current options if there was any potential things could change.

“The planned voting in the second half of October will go ahead at a later date. Rotas will be delivered as agreed in 2019 as an absolute requirement of the commissioning contract and the delivery of the independent service review requirements. We are pleased to be able to demonstrate our commitment to meaningful discussions prior to any formal consultation.”

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