GMB union calls SECAmb executive team "a den of lies and cover ups" after safety debate rages on

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SECAmb still refusing to discuss the safety of FIATs despite their own briefing stating there are risks to safety from poorly fitted seatbelts

Today GMB union has issued a survey to their thousands of members working in South East Coast Ambulance Service as SECAmb Executive managers still refuse to allow staff to have an individual risk assessment. The call from GMB union for individual risk assessments and for the vehicles to undergo and independent safety inspection follows on from a briefing sent by the Chief Executive Philip Astle to all his staff on the 12th November stating “A potential fault has been identified from 2 x datix following road traffic incidents where the seatbelt was not positioned to protect the driver or passenger correctly.” It goes on to say  “staff should carry out a dynamic risk assessment and ensure the seatbelt fits as intended and if there are any concerns demonstrate these to the duty OTL”.

Since issuing this notice to all staff, many GMB members have alerted their managers to the fact they cannot position the seat correctly to fit the seatbelt correctly or have their legs positioned correctly and members have been told by managers verbally that if they cannot use the vehicle there are no alternative duties or redeployment so they could end up losing their jobs if they cannot safely use these vehicles.

Lib Whitfield, GMB Southern Regional Organiser said “SECAmb are still refusing to address this issue using a formal risk assessment process and for GMB the only clear reason can be that they do not wish any formal evidence of the ongoing and serious issue with the safety of these vehicles in the service. GMB have been alerted that some managers cannot get these vehicles seatbelts to position correctly for themselves and so do not use them but when the same standard is asked for on behalf of our members it is refused.

SECAmb can issue as many lengthy statements that it likes to try and silence the truth about the risks of these vehicles but GMB union and our membership will not back down to bullies who put their money before the safety of their staff. SECAmb executive team is currently nothing short of a den of lies and cover ups when it comes to the topic of the Fiat vehicles, they are so afraid of the truth because they cannot admit they have got this so very wrong. If SECAmb is already insisting staff do “dynamic” risk assessments to ensure safety then why are they fighting to stop these being made into formal individual risk assessments. The only difference between the two is firstly ensuring the person doing the assessment is qualified to ensure the individuals safety and secondly and most importantly formal risk assessments must be done in writing. It is becoming increasingly clear that SECAmb is putting staff and potentially the publics lives at risk and their primary concern is to ensure there isn’t anything in writing to confirm that these vehicles are dangerous for a number of users.

GMB is calling time on SECAmb's disregard for staff, we have today written to the trust under our health and safety trade union rights and requested all health and safety information held by the Trust regarding the Fiat fleet and we are calling on our members to make sure they do not use these vehicles without a risk assessment.

In addition we have issued our members a further survey today to ensure all the evidence from individuals who are not able to use these vehicles safely is collated by the union as SECAmb states there are no safety issues despite their own briefings to the contrary. Members need to know GMB cares about their safety but the question on everyone's mind really is “does SECAMB?”

Members should complete the survey here 

Leaflet for members 

You can read the GMB Risk Assessment document here