SIPTU have said members of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) are planning a national mobilising campaign to win respect and recognition for all ambulance professionals this year.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell, said: “Our members, across all grades in the NAS, are determined to secure greater recognition from the health employers including, if necessary, by taking a ballot for industrial action early in the new year.
"Our members are no longer “van” drivers. They have over a relatively short period of time developed into a highly skilled workforce with the ability to make key clinical decisions and to administer lifesaving medications to patients suffering trauma, cardiac arrest or stroke.
In 2019, SIPTU representatives participated in a review of the skillsets of ambulance professionals with a focus on emergency medical technicians and paramedics. The findings of the review are due to be published early this year.
"It may shock the wider medical community, including the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and indeed the general public, that ambulance professionals are not regulated unlike nurses, midwives, radiographers, radiation therapists and physiotherapists yet they are responsible for administering up to 45 lifesaving drugs and making clinical decisions and in many cases are the first point of contact for patients.
"The regulation of ambulance professionals must be treated as a priority."
He added: "Our members rightly feel that their time for recognition and respect is now and that the Government needs to engage on these issues and give them confidence that the future structure, viability and vision of our National Ambulance Service works for the many, not the few.”