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Ambulance staff in strike action ballot

Ambulances queueing at Preston Hospital.
Ambulances queueing at Preston Hospital.
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Paramedics across the North West could be about to vote for strike action over a long-running pay row.

Ambulance staff in the region are being balloted by their union over industrial action after finally running out of patience in a dispute dating back almost 13 years.

The GMB union says the North West Ambulance Service, which covers Lancashire, is “refusing to budge” in pay discussions which have been dragging on.

“After almost 13 years our members are now saying enough is enough,” said GMB organiser Mike Buoey. “Our members have been astonishingly patient in waiting for their jobs to be evaluated for the years between 2005 and 2016. When this was finally completed two years ago re re-entered into discussions with NWAS in good faith, but they are refusing to budge.”

The ballot is already underway and will close next Friday (May 4).

The vote comes just days after it was revealed the number of violent attacks on ambulance personnel has soared by 34 per cent to 14,441 over the past four years. That equates to more than eight a day.

A move to get stiffer penalties for assaults on emergency service workers was given cross-party support in Parliament yesterday.

A staggering 72 per cent of ambulance staff in the UK say they have been attacked while on duty. The GMB says almost 40 per cent of those suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder - twice as many as soldiers returning from active duty.

Michael Forrest, director of organisational development for NWAS, said: “We are disappointed that GMB has chosen to take this action whilst a process is still ongoing.

“The trust is committed to resolving the matter in partnership with all our trade unions.

“Talks are currently taking place and will continue until a resolution has been agreed.”