Thursday, January 26, 2023

Welsh ambulance faces ‘catastrophic’ £15million cuts

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ambulance workers in Wales Strikes over pay and working conditions For the past year, the current situation has claimed to be affecting staff numbers, increasing delays and killing patients.

Around 1,500 Unison ambulances across the country on Monday took part in an exoduswith more labor disputes planned next month.

A union boss said the service was already “on its knees” and that further cuts would be “disastrous”, adding there were concerns that layoffs and vacancies could be part of the cost-cutting measures put in place.

WAST confirmed the current £15m gap in next year’s finances but said negotiations were underway to reduce the potential deficit.

Finance director Chris Turley has insisted layoffs are off the table, whatever the final shortage.

The Welsh Government, which funds the NHS in Wales, accused Westminster of “inadequate regulation” due to “their mismanagement of the UK economy”.

A UK Government spokesman said the Welsh Government is “well funded to meet its responsibilities”.

“Health authorities and trusts across the UK have now received their budgets for 2023/24 and they have not been increased in line with inflation, meaning budgets are immediately in deficit,” the union boss said.

“So they’re all being told they have to make millions of pounds worth of efficiency savings.

“The biggest expense for most boards and foundations is wages so that’s the most likely place they will try to make cuts and that could be done by not hiring people for the vacancies they currently have have,” he claimed.

“Once again, the downsizing that we are already talking about is at dangerous levels.

“The service is already on its knees, there is almost nothing left to cut, so further cuts could be catastrophic.”

The cost pressures the service is facing include inflation, energy and petrol prices and the cost of around £6million to keep 100 recently hired frontline staff paid this year from one-off funds from the Welsh Government.

Mr Turley said: “As at this stage in the development of our financial plan over the past few years, our funding level for 2023-24 is currently a forecast only, based on a number of assumptions which we have yet to agree, as well as our cost estimates for that coming financial year.

“We are a mandated service and continue to work with the Government and our Commissioners to set our final level of funding for next year, including the total amount of any savings that may be needed to offset and how they might be achieved.

“There is absolutely no indication that a lack of funding would lead to layoffs and it is wrong to suggest that it would.

“Our headcount has grown significantly in recent years to accommodate the increased demand for our services and the complexity of our patients.

“Maintaining their skills is paramount to moving forward.”

He added: “While the pressure on public service finances is acute, we will do everything we can to achieve a balanced budget and work with our union partners to ensure we continue to operate a safe and effective ambulance service.”

A paramedic, who asked not to be identified, said: “Unfortunately, I’m not shocked at the potential for further cuts to come.

“That is essentially why we are on strike.

“The public has been told it’s about below-inflation wage increases, but it’s also a means for us to explain more fully the issues that are going on and that’s why many of us believe the government is trying to limit our ability to stop expressing oneself.

“We are the canary in the coal mine sounding the alarm because we have endured this for so long, seeing the tsunami approaching, knowing that it will only get worse until the whole system is redesigned and the welfare side of the world is redesigned Things are fixed,” they added.

“We don’t need politicians pointing fingers at each other (at the) shipping box, we don’t need them to tell us how many millions more in funding they’ve committed, because while I’m sure that’s true, it is so obviously not working.

“We desperately need a plan that doesn’t involve salary cuts and budget cuts year after year – because where has that got us?”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Due to the UK Government’s lack of agreement and its mismanagement of the UK economy, our budget is worth #3 billion less in real terms than when it was originally set.

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