NWAS have just announced that they have moved to REAP 4 as a result of the increasing activity and the number of staff who are self-isolating as a result of the new variant of the Coronavirus. They have now approached the Trade Unions to discuss the possible implementation of temporary agreements to help to ease the pressures placed upon us all. Given the events that have taken place in other ambulance Trusts across the UK, we know that there are some difficult decisions to be made.
Across the UK, other ambulance services are introducing their own measures to tackle the increasing demands. Some are paying double time to staff who work overtime along with a payment, others are making a payment for shifts that are worked subject to local agreement. A couple of services are adopting extreme measures by utilising the services of the Fire Brigade and the military to drive clinicians around on blue lights. It has to be said that at the time of writing, the staffing levels in those services are a lot worse than they are here in NWAS but our absence levels are increasing each week and expected to get worse.
In the spirit of working in Partnership, UNISON has always committed to exploring options with our management when problems arise. It has to be said that the issues that we are having to deal with now are as extreme as it is ever likely to get. As your union, we have been preparing in the background as we have been expecting NWAS to approach us at some point. As far as we are concerned, until every single alternative option internally has been explored, we will not be considering the use of either the Fire Service or the Military. We have our own PTS and UCS staff who could, if necessary, volunteer to do some additional training and assist temporarily. Other considerations may be to utilise CFR staff to undertake additional training and back fill if necessary. We are of the view that our clinicians want to have NWAS staff sat next to them rather than externals and it is with this in mind that we will be moving forward. To be clear, no decisions have been made about anything at this moment in time.
What do you think? If you have any constructive ideas or feedback, please go to www.nwasunison.co.uk/contact-us and let us have your views. We are committed to looking after the interests of our members, but some difficult decisions have to be made over the next couple of weeks, so we want to hear from you.