Categories
Branch Chair

Winter Pressures

Dear LAS UNISON Member,

Hope you had a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year.

But it seems to me 2018 is here and nothing has changed, our call rate is still increasing beyond being funny and if we are truthful we are finding it difficult to cope.

Hospitals across London and all across the UK are also finding it difficult to manage.

Every day and every hour Ambulances are being queued, just waiting to unload the patient that they have conveyed to a local A&E – it is becoming the norm.

It is called “winter pressures” but it seems to me that our pressures seem to last all year; winter, summer and relatively mild pressures!

Only last week our Prime Minister said “The NHS is better prepared for this winter than ever before

Then the same week we get told that the NHS have cancelled all non-emergency operations, which Officials have estimated, that this could lead to up to 55,000 deferred operations – such as cataract surgery and hip replacements.

Then we find out that across the country, Nearly 5,000 ambulances spent more than an hour queueing outside A&E during the festive week – the highest levels this winter.

A total of 16,900 people were forced to wait for more than 30 minutes to be seen by staff at emergency departments over the Christmas week, up from 11,900 the previous week.

Our Service are still having to fly to the other side of the world to get trained Paramedics to come and work in London, when our own Staff are willing and waiting to be trained.

Our Service is still using a private ambulance company to cover shortfalls.

This is not an NHS that is well prepared, this is not the health service that the people of London and the rest of the country deserve; last year was one of the most difficult we have had to deal with and everybody at LAS UNISON are proud of the way our members went about their work helping people in some of the most difficult of circumstances.

This week the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremey Hunt made an informal visit to the Headquarters of the London Ambulance Service and stated; “I was particularly impressed to hear about the efforts of their dedicated staff to plan for winter; they have clearly been effective in helping ensure good care for their patients.”

Which is always very nice for LAS Staff to be praised, but it’s not just praise that our members need, giving public service workers a pat on the back isn’t going to put food on their table, petrol in their cars or pay their bills.

This is why UNISON has led the “Pay up Now! – Scrap the pay cap” campaign – this is still top of UNISON’s agenda and more information will follow.

Here is to hoping we have a successful 2018, and I hope to see you at our AGM in March.

If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!

We are stronger together. We are all frontline.

Eddie Brand (Branch Secretary)

Categories
Branch Secretary

Eric Roberts

My great friend and our Branch Secretary passed away a year ago today; Eric is still massively missed, not only by his family but by everyone that was lucky enough to know him.

The great work that Eric did for all health workers will never be forgotten and today I would hope that everyone will raise a glass to Eric and celebrate his life.

Rodney Bickerstaffe

In October we lost another great Trade Unionist, Rodney Bickerstaffe former General Secretary of our former Union NUPE and then UNISON. Rodney was a great friend of us all at LAS UNISON and he is another that will be missed and our thoughts go to his wife Pat and their family.

We are so lucky to be surrounded by passionate UNISON representatives that continue to work hard on our behalf week in week out, not only representing all our members’ needs but making sure our branch moves ever stronger.

Lobby of Parliament

Recently one of our members Laura Barrett, Paramedic at West Ham Station became a UNISON TV Star! Helping UNISON Ambulance operational group at a lobby of parliament to support the private members bill to aggravate violent offences when perpetrated against emergency service workers and those that support them.

The next day Laura appeared on the BBC2 Victoria Derbyshire show explaining about the hideous violent situations that Laura has had to face just trying to carry out her duties looking after the people of London. This is why this bill must be made law – Emergency service workers, including staff working in the NHS providing healthcare must benefit from additional legal protection against assault and violent attacks.

Thank you and well done Laura.

I can promise you that whatever you read from other unions – LAS UNISON is the largest union in our Service and UNISON nationally are the largest Union in the country. Also our Ambulance operations group which represents all the UK’s Ambulance services is the largest in the country.

Presently, it seems that on a weekly basis, one of our Senior Sector representatives get at least one call from a member of another trade union asking for advice or representation – I am sorry but we don’t do that – if you want representation from the largest trade Union in the LAS you will have to join us!

Being the largest is why in July 2017 UNISON was able to defeat this government in our landmark victory over Tribunal fees, UNISON defeated this government in the highest UK court – The Supreme Court, and UNISON took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand. Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales wanting to pursue a case against their employer has had to find as much as £1,200 but these fees will now be refunded.

Pay Up Now Campaign

This is also why UNISON are leading on pay and the “Scrap the Cap – Pay up Now” campaign every single person who works in public services needs and deserve a pay rise. It’s time for the pay cap to be scrapped, for the government to provide additional funding for public sector pay and for employers to pay up now.

Our Branch attended the “Scrap the Cap – Pay up now” (Britain deserves a pay rise) rally in London on 17th October 2017 and I would also like to thank our members that took time out of their busy schedules to support our Branch and our region.

LAS UNISON will continue to do our best for our membership and will continue to grow because our representatives understand what it is like to work in a busy publically funded Ambulance Service and we want many things but the main one is that ALL staff that work in our service are properly rewarded for the great work they do day in day out “Scrap the Cap – Pay up Now”

Eric’s Blog Picture

As Eric used to sign off on his blog –

If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!

We are stronger together. We are all Frontline.

 

Eddie Brand (Branch Secretary)

Categories
Branch Chair General

A Chair’s blog….no not a chair chair, a Branch Chair

Tough times

Is been a busy few days for me but not anywhere near as busy as it has been for others in our capital city. All in all some pretty tough times lately.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Tim. Since April this year I have been Chair of the LAS UNISON Branch Committee, a role that I absolutely relish but I have to be clear, a role that I never intended to do right now. Never the less the gap in our lives that our friend and founder of our Branch, Eric Roberts, left on his passing created the need for us to make changes. Changes that he had prepared our Branch for by virtue of the fantastic, strong, well resourced, well educated, best Branch in the country he created around him. We duly filled that gap as he would have expected without hesitation. Eddie took the role of Branch Secretary and I took his previous role as Branch Chair, a role that I take with great respect for what has gone before me to create it and for my responsibility to work for our Branch as Eddie has before me for the entire time I have been in the LAS. And here we are, still functioning as we did before Eric left us even if we do miss him in so many ways.

Eddie and I have been visiting each of our sectors in the LAS over the past few weeks and going to the reps AGM’s held by the Senior Sector reps. We’ve met a lot of great reps across the service and many new reps which is a testament to the Senior reps and the engagement they have fostered with new activists in their areas. We were at Ilford earlier in the week where, aside from the great reps there, Julie (North East Sector Senior rep) put on by far the best spread so far! But of course the Eastenders do know how to throw a knees up, so that was to be expected.

My role as Chair is to support Eddie and to help organise and support our Branch reps, in particular the rabble of Senior Sector reps, of which I had been one of for Central Sector before my current role. Due to the amount of them and the kind of people they are, this is a largely thankless task as they frustratingly continue to busy themselves with tirelessly campaigning for, defending and generally looking after the members of our Trade Union taking very little notice of the face I am making at them when they talk to me about it. They honestly do not shut up about it and they are annoyingly good at what they do.

They are my friends though so I dutifully listen to them harping on about their latest success or obstacle or give them my opinion for the umpteenth time on their latest case or issue they are trying to find a solution for that seems to me to be impossible to resolve. How they continue, relentlessly in a time where our service has so little funding to do anything beyond keep the wheels rolling and where our entire public service is under such strain from the vicious policy against us by this government is beyond me. But that is just what Londoners do. Head down, don’t talk to anyone on the tube, keep themselves to themselves and…..hold on, no it isn’t. Well, not always. What we actually do is stand up for what is right. Just like our reps do. We care for each other, regardless of who you are, when we are in need. Just like our reps do. When we need to, we fight for each other. Just like our reps do. We shout at terrorist “f**k you I’m Millwall” and throw a chair to help others get to safety. Well, our reps haven’t done that to my knowledge but it’s certainly what Londoners do as Millwall fan Roy Larner did on London Bridge.

When others are in need we help them as I witnessed yesterday in the aftermath of the fire at Grenfell Tower. So I asked my Branch what we could do because I am a Londoner too and we are fortunate to have access to resources that can help others, just as our reps help our members and our service. Our Branch often donate to charitable causes for all sorts of things, for a couple of photos in a UNISON tee shirt we’ll sponsor you a few quid.

But I wanted to do something direct and we have those resources, so I thought, why not use it now when people need help. So we did. I got the agreement of the branch to release £1000 and me and one of our members Abi Evans (who has some contacts for this kind of thing) put off our plans for the day, borrowed a van and took ourselves up to Grenfell Tower and then to a couple of donation centres to see if there was something needed immediately that we could help with. Well, apparently we weren’t the only Londoners with that idea, by the time we got up there the centres were overwhelmed with donations. As always, Londoners turned out to help. What the centres did need by then were packing boxes to organise what they had so we happily negotiated a deal with the Big Yellow Storage company in North Kensington and secured ourselves £1000 worth of boxes, tape and pens. Typically the manager could not have been more helpful, giving a big discount and arranging for a friend to deliver what we couldn’t take with us after the company had already put aside most of the ground floor for free to a charity for storage of donations to this incident.

There were a lot of busy people around yesterday, all there with one intention, helping those who needed it, just like the whole purpose of our NHS, regardless of who they were, just because people are in need. One mention I want to make is to our staff and the workers of the other emergency services there at Grenfell Tower. The task has been enormous, from start to the as yet undefined finish. In particular I must highlight the ongoing work the HART team we met yesterday are still doing there as I write. Whilst we all know the jibes often levelled at them sometimes such as how much tea they drink (I would never say such a thing obviously!), they are more than earning their money and our respect this week. The hazards they are facing and the job they are doing in that tower is unimaginable even for us as colleagues.

In these difficult times for many communities in London and for all our public services, particularly us in the NHS, we have to stick together. I am proud to be part of the NHS, I am proud to be part of the LAS and I am proud to be part of UNISON, all three of those there to help those in need and stand up for what is right.

Keep it up London and I will do my part.

Tim Stephens
LAS UNISON Branch Chair

 

Categories
Branch Secretary

El Presidente

Dear UNISON Member,

Let me introduce myself, my name is Eddie Brand and I am the new Branch Secretary for our great Branch, the London Ambulance Service UNISON Branch.

One of the largest Ambulance Branches in the UK and one of the biggest Health Branches in London.

I am very proud to be holding this position as it is something I always have wanted to do, but in the future – it shouldn’t have been time yet.

As you all know, Eric Roberts our previous Branch Secretary, was cruelly taken away from us, from his family, his friends, his work colleagues and our great Union at the end of last year.

Eric was the only Branch Secretary our Branch has ever had in place, since the conception of our Branch in 1995. Before that, Eric was the Branch Secretary for the North-West NUPE Branch.

Personally, not only was Eric a great friend but he was also like a father figure (He would hate me saying that) to us all.

As I recently said at Eric’s memorial which was held at the Trade Union Congress in London – Eric was our Branch, he was a calming influence with a wise head that held it all together.

As you are probably aware, Eric is UNISON’s President (The first Ambulance Worker to hold this position) and I know I am slightly biased but he would have been our best President, he was known to his good friends as “El Presidente”

But I know Eric would have wanted our Branch to grow stronger and stronger and do the best for our members, our service and the Trade Union movement, so that’s what we will try to do.

I am lucky we have a great team in our Branch, the officers, the Branch Committee, the Senior Sector representatives and the workplace representatives and finally our members from all areas of our Service.

Also, the great help and advice that we receive from our Regional Officer and the London region of UNISON.

We made the decision at our January Branch Committee to carry on with the UNISON London Ambulance Service blog that Eric had started “Eric’s Blog” but we all know that none of us have the great humour and creative skill that Eric had, so please excuse me and try and stay awake!


At a recent Staff Council, UNISON added to the agenda “The London Package” this is what Eric first wrote in 2014 to then Chief Executive Ann Radmore then again in 2015 to the next Chief Executive Fionna Moore.

UNISON calls for:

  • All Paramedics at Band 6.
  • A re-think of the Senior Paramedic role.
  • Technicians’ future to be secured.
  • Make it easier, and affordable, for our own staff to study to become Paramedics.
  • Make it financially attractive for all staff to stay with LAS.
  • Create a unique London Package for all our staff that recognises the stresses and strains of working in London.
  • Outside of this we should review all Bandings as a result of ‘Market forces’. London is different. London is unique.

So, some of these issues are still outstanding and we will continue pressing ahead for changes so we can see these matters come to fruition.

It’s a shame that our Senior Management didn’t start earlier with these issues as we may not have had to go the other side of the world just to Staff our Ambulances, although it has been great getting to know them, they have fitted in with us quite well and we welcome them as members of our union.

Also on the Staff Council was the issue of Rest Breaks and Annual Leave that Management would like to see changes.

 

But if we took the same attitude as the Senior Management team did in 2014 and 2015 with Eric’s London Package letter, we may see changes in 2019 if it takes 2 years like the band 6 issue!

But we will talk and meet with them regarding these issues and I can promise we will consult with our membership on both these matters.

We won’t accept changes just for change sake, these must be acceptable to our members.

In addition at the Staff Council and in a recent RIB edition we were informed that The Service was also going to look at the previous Management restructure which will include Clinical Team Leaders.

I wrote to the Director of Operations the next day to confirm that UNISON will be involved in all areas including Job descriptions if necessary.

I was given assurances the same day via email.

I hope to see you at our AGM 17th March 17:00 Start at Unison Centre, 130 Euston Road NW1 2AY.

I will now sign off as the great Eric Roberts did!

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Support Your Union

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 Information on all issues can be found elsewhere on our website.

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If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!

 

We are stronger together. We are all Frontline.

 

Eddie Brand – Branch Secretary

 

Categories
Communications

New Branch Blog

Welcome to the New LAS UNISON Branch Blog.

Eric Roberts started his blog back in 2010 as a new and unique way to communicate with our members. It was passionate, funny, informative and gave a personal view from our Branch Secretary and UNISON president on what he wanted for our members.

Yes, we have a website, facebook page and a twitter account, but sometimes it is difficult to get across on these platforms what you want to say.

For example: The website – This is a factual news and information site. Twitter is limited to 140 characters and not everyone is on facebook. (even though it seems like it) A blog is the perfect platform for getting across things we want to say in a slightly less formal way.

I know you enjoyed reading Eric’s blogs. (I got to see the user stats) We looked at lots of different options for replacing his blog including not having one at all. However, I believe his legacy should be a continuation of the blog format. I would also like to remind you that Eric’s Blog will remain online at http://ericsblog.lasunison.com/ have a read through some of his posts when you get a chance.

At the January Branch Committee meeting, I proposed and it was agreed that the blog would become a multi user blog updated by all the senior sector reps and the occasional branch officer who does not have their own web page such as myself. I know, always seemed odd that the guy who built the website didn’t actually have his own page!

I hope that this new format will allow for more local news to filter through to the website. I know there is lots of good work being done by UNISON stewards and H&S reps right across the service that we never hear about. Be sure to tell your sector reps what you are doing and they can add it to the blog.


 

On Wednesday 8 February I attended a special UNISON celebration remembering Eric and his life. The whole branch was there along with Eric’s family, LAS Colleagues and UNISON activists and ambulance staff from right across Britain.

Lots of people got up and spoke about how much Eric meant to them and what he had done for them. Many of these people I had never met before and it was really lovely to see what an impact our branch secretary had on the union and people across the country.


We are going through a time of immense change. The UK has voted to leave Europe, we have a Tory government and a billionaire businessman has been elected president of the USA. On a positive note, Paramedics are going to finally be put into Band 6. I find myself wondering just what is going to happen next but I am confident that when we stick together in UNISON we can deal with whatever is thrown at us.

We don’t always get it right and it’s okay to make mistakes, but remember that everyone in UNISON is there to help and support our members. We want to get the best terms and conditions for our members and ultimately make the London Ambulance Service the best ambulance service in the country and maybe even the world. If the LAS succeeds then so do we, but we have to work together in partnership for that to happen.

 

Rob Sydney – Communications Officer