Ambulance staff 'take on over three million hours of overtime'

The figures come after ambulance workers announced a 26-hour strike starting from 6am on November 28.

Ambulance staff take on over three million hours of overtime since 2017, Scottish Conservative figures reveal iStock

Ambulance staff have taken on more than three million hours of overtime in the last five years, new figures have revealed.

Freedom of information figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives showed that a total of 3,342,486 hours of paid overtime have been undertaken since 2017.

The data also revealed that more than a quarter of a million hours were carried out in the first five months of 2022.

It comes after ambulance staff, part of the GMB Scotland union, announced a 26-hour strike starting at 6am on November 28.

Unite members have now announced they will no longer work overtime amid the flat rate offer of £2,205 per person, backdated to April.

The Scottish Government has said it will do “everything possible” to avoid strike action.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, health spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said the figures were “deeply concerning”.

He said: “Not only do they underline the huge impact overtime bans will have on our vital emergency services, but they also show how reliant we have become on the goodwill of exhausted frontline staff.

“Ambulance staff are used to unimaginable pressure, but years of SNP failures on workforce planning have left them understaffed, overworked, and ultimately brought them to breaking point.

“It’s no wonder paramedics and ambulance workers feel they have no choice but to take industrial action.

“The SNP are already presiding over a crisis in our A&E departments – strikes and overtime bans in our ambulance service could be utterly devastating this winter.

“It’s clear that frontline NHS staff – like the rest of the country – have no faith in Humza Yousaf to give them the vital support and fair working conditions they deserve.

“Humza Yousaf has completely lost the trust of our heroic NHS workers.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has previously said the industrial action was “disappointing” but insisted the Scottish Government had no more money to increase the offer.

The Glasgow MSP urged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to “urgently intervene, sack her incompetent Health Secretary and work to end this damaging dispute”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our recent funding boost to the Scottish Ambulance Service has seen record recruitment of 540 additional ambulance staff last year with further recruitment for this year already underway.

“The safety of patients is our top priority and while we will do everything possible to avoid strike action, we are working with boards to put detailed plans in place.”

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