Moray ambulance staff record a ‘significant victory’ at tribunal

Moray paramedics have won a legal fight that union bosses say is a “significant victory” against what they described as a “ludicrous” ruling by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Relief ambulance paramedics Ellouise Wood and Paul Truslove worked from Elgin but were at times required to cover the Dufftown and Tomintoul areas on night calls.

Both sought compensation from the Scottish Ambulance Service saying that the service had breached their rest period entitlements under the 1998 Working Time Regulations, as they had accumulated 48 and 97 consecutive working hours respectively.

An original decision by the Employment Tribunal had said despite on-call paramedics being required to relocate to accommodation inside three miles of a local station and to respond to emergencies inside a three-minute target time, it was still defined as a rest period.

However, that judgement has now been ruled as an error of law and on-call duties should be defined as working time.

The Unite union regional industrial officer, Tommy Campbell, said: “The original employment tribunal judgement that time spent by technicians and paramedics on-call and away from home to fulfil geographical and time-bound requirements for the provision of patient care as a rest period was, frankly, ludicrous.

“The ruling to overturn the original judgement and clearly define on-call duty at working time not only protects the right of our ambulance technicians and paramedics to a proper compensatory rest period but also ensures we have the best standards for patient safety.”

It was in 2010 when Moray ambulance services made national headlines when a trainee technician on a rest break chose not to respond to a 999 call after a woman suffered a cardiac arrest at her home just two minutes from the ambulance depot at Tomintoul.

Commenting on the effects of the revised ruling a spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “We are working through implementation plans in partnership with staff representatives to ensure that ambulance cover will be maintained.”

Leave a comment