AMBULANCE staff are set to press on with strike action next week.

Proposed action by Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) staff due to take place today was called off at the last minute after UNISON withdrew its notice of industrial action.

But following a meeting held in Bristol yesterday it was announced the strike will now go ahead next week unless an agreement can be reached.

Workers plan to strike over changes to shift patterns along with a number of other long-term issues, with 96 per cent of workers voting in favour of some sort of action.

UNISON says the changes could see staff being sent out to calls without the right level of qualifications or training and arriving at incidents where they would be unable to offer any clinical intervention. But GWAS chief executive David Whiting maintains the service is taking on additional frontline staff and looking to make existing crews more effective by increasing the operational cover we provide at the busiest times - particularly evenings and weekends.

Following yesterday’s meeting he said: “We arrived at today’s meeting with a comprehensive package of proposals that addressed the range of issues raised by UNISON. It is therefore extremely disappointing that the meeting ended with very little progress and UNISON re-issuing their notice of action to us.

“I can only repeat that the changes we have introduced to our shift patterns and levels of cover are about providing the best clinical care to our patients whenever and wherever they need us.

“Unlike many other areas of the public sector, we are not cutting jobs – in fact we are taking on additional frontline staff – and we are not cutting salaries. I firmly believe that the changes improve the service we provide to patients and will also benefit our staff.”

Further meetings are due to be held on Monday.