A RADICAL change to working hours will ensure ambulance staff respond to emergency calls while on a break.
And the news of a resolution to a long-term pay deal has been boosted with the announcement of 150 new jobs to be created at the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).
In new plans, which have been agreed by unions, staff will move to a 37 and a half hour paid week inclusive of rest periods.
Currently, staff are rostered for 40 hours per week, paid for 37 and a half and entitled to two and a half hours of unpaid rest periods. As they will now be paid for all the hours they are on duty, staff will be required to attend emergency calls throughout their shift period.
Confirming the agreement to the Scottish Parliament, Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am pleased to say that a long term solution – that protects patients safety and also supports ambulance service staff.
“No individual staff members will gain financially when required to attend an emergency call during a rest period. I welcome a resolution that clearly demonstrates what I have always known and believe to be the case – that the priority of ambulance staff is their patients, not their personal gain.” And to support the redesign of the service, an additional 150 front line staff will be hired, as Ms Sturgeon continued: “The Scottish Government will invest an additional five million pounds per year in the Scottish Ambulance Service to create 150 new front line jobs.
“The investment will strengthen the clinical response to life-threatening emergencies as well as the performance of the Scottish Ambulance Service. “For remote and rural areas it will support increased numbers of community paramedics able to work in and with communities.”
Unite Union Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty, who had been working with ambulance staff union members in resolving the pay dispute, commented: “These developments are a step in the right direction and a reflection of their [ambulance staff] total dedication to this essential public service.
“The proposals benefit both patients and staff, helping to deliver the best service possible for the public and moving towards a resolution on working-time that the workforce have long campaigned for.” He added: “We also welcome the positive participation of the Scottish Government over the last week.
“Moving forward we call on the Health Secretary to build on today’s developments and to keep working with the trade unions, ensuring our ambulance service receives the necessary investment and resources to meet future demand.”