WORKFORCE: Plans to reshape ambulance services in the North East are facing opposition from unions.

Staff belonging to Unison and GMB at North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust have voted against proposals which include changes to staffing models, the trust confirmed. The plans would see some ambulances no longer have a paramedic on board.

The trust has said its proposals would include nine additional ambulances and 67 more staff, and improve services.

The ambulances without paramedics would be staffed by emergency care support workers – whom the trust says would be appropriately qualified. They would be used for non-emergency calls, leaving paramedic-staffed ambulances to deal with more serious cases.

The trust carried out a poll on the changes last month.

Unison officer David Atkinson said its members were unhappy about the impact of the proposed changes on services and care, but said it was continuing to negotiate with the trust. No ballot for industrial action has taken place.

A spokeswoman for NEAS said: “Unison and GMB members within NEAS were asked to give their view in an indicative poll on whether our proposals on how emergency care crews are organised were acceptable.

“Both unions have informed us those who participated in the recent poll were not in favour.”

A meeting was scheduled with union representatives this week to discuss the outcome and next steps.

The trust said no staff would have their pay band downgraded under the plans, although some may be asked to move to different stations.