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West Norfolk councillors Jo Rust and Tom Ryves discuss East of England Ambulance Service strike plans





Two councillors have voiced starkly different views on whether ambulance staff should opt to go on strike.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), which covers West Norfolk, was the only service in the country yet to take part in recent walk-outs after failing to reach a voting threshold in December.

However, the hospital still put a number of special measures in place amid growing pressure on its workers.

East of England Ambulance Service staff are set to strike (Image: Wheelz Media)
East of England Ambulance Service staff are set to strike (Image: Wheelz Media)

And now, according to a BBC report, 86% of the trust who are members of the GMB trade union have voiced their support for taking action.

The Lynn News approached the trust, which dispatches ambulances to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn, for confirmation on the matter.

A spokesman responded: “We are aware that members of the GMB union have voted in favour in industrial action over the national issue of pay.

Cllr Jo Rust, Trades Council secretary, has continued to back those taking industrial action
Cllr Jo Rust, Trades Council secretary, has continued to back those taking industrial action

“We understand the strength of feeling behind the concerns colleagues have around this issue and we are committed to working with our unions to improve working lives at our service.”

A date for the EEAST to take strike action has yet to be determined.

Jo Rust, an Independent borough councillor speaking in her role as Trades Council secretary, has once again backed the staff opting to take part.

She is also confident that they will continue to deliver “life and limb” care throughout the process.

Cllr Tom Ryvesdoes not back ambulance staff opting to strike
Cllr Tom Ryvesdoes not back ambulance staff opting to strike

“Ambulance staff and anyone delivering such an important public service do not take strike action lightly,” she said.

“Many of these striking ambulance staff will be on a picket line, but they’ll be dressed for duty and they’ll be ready to go at the drop of a hat.”

Independent borough councillor Tom Ryves agreed that the NHS is in “dire crisis”, but believes the “bully boy” approach of trade unions is just as reprehensible as the Government’s perceived lack of action.

He said: “As much I am conflicted by the seemingly reasonable demands of the ambulance workers, and the fact that the consequence of their actions will be felt by the most at risk in our society. And on balance it is those most at risk in the community I support.

“The people who will suffer are of course those in need of hospital treatment, now not able to attend for tests and procedures, who will now have to re-join the enormous queue that is our once revered NHS.

“Inevitably, some will die as a result of being denied ambulances. As ever it is the poorest who suffer, those without medical insurance and vehicles to get to hospital for planned treatment.”

Cllr Rust added that she believes issues with NHS services occurring during non-strike times, such as bed blocking and delayed discharges, highlight the need for industrial action to make real change.



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