A Stretched Agenda, Strong Hart and Chinese Scouse!

The VEWG (Vehicle and Equipment Working Group) met on the 30th July with an agenda as long as a Mercedes-Benz Ambulance. Size, in agendas as in other areas of life, shouldn’t matter: it is what you do with it that counts!

Seven Unison representatives attended this meeting and we as a union are very clear. We want to use the VEWG to get back to basics in our Service. Make sure staff have the tools and the kit to do the job in the best and safest way.

Make sure vehicles are clean and stocked correctly. Make sure the equipment is up to date and safe to use. Make sure there is enough blankets. Make sure the vehicle is in the right place, for the right staff, with the right equipment. 

This is not rocket science but we have struggled on our Service. While aiming high to reach the response targets (which we are all under pressure to do) we sometimes take our eye off the fundamentals.

I mentioned this issue in a Blog a couple of weeks ago. This is about staff turning up at a job in a hi-tech vehicle with hi-tech equipment but not having a blanket to put around the patient.

It is time for a rain check. I am not blaming anybody. We have all took our eyes off the ball and it is time now for us to re-focus. Re-focus on some of the important things that make all our jobs easier.

That is Unison’s agenda – short and sweet!


We have a lot of members in HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) who do not get mentioned often. So I am going to mention them!

There is a national discussion  going on at the moment between the union and the Department of Health’s Emergency Preparedness Division around fitness levels. 

Everyone is in agreement that staff need to be fit and healthy to take on this role (as indeed most operational roles) but putting the ‘how, who, what and where’ into a formal national agreement can sometimes be difficult. We have to have some level of fitness and some way to test that level.

We also have to protect staff who may not reach that set level (whatever it is) while also making sure that staff have the facilities to keep to that level of fitness if their place within HART may depend on it.

I have had great help from the HART staff in sending early comments up to the union and I thank them.  When, and if, these national assessment rules are agreed, then London Ambulance HART staff and their representatives will be involved in the local roll out. Any news I get I will pass on to our HART members.


Unison has threatened to take the government to judicial review if the White Paper reforms are implemented without proper consultation. At the same time Unison and other public sector unions have tabled resolutions to September’s Trades Union Congress in Manchester calling for a united front against planned cuts to public sector jobs, pay and pensions.


The football season is nearly upon us and, with apologies to non football members, I am going to nail my flag to the mast. I am a Liverpool supporter and have a good feeling about the new season.

A few wealthy foreigners  are chasing to buy the club, including the Chinese multi-millionaire Kenny Huang. If he buys the club (as has been reported) from the Americans, so much the better. I would rather no foreign speculator owns British football clubs but, there you are, it has already happened and we all hope our own club gets a bit of the money slushing around.

It would be fitting in an historical way, however, if Kenny Huang did own Liverpool FC. The city of Liverpool has one of the oldest established Chinese communities in Europe (forget Soho!).

There was a direct Steamer line connection between China and Liverpool trading tea, silk, cotton and wool. Hundreds and hundreds of boats docked in one of Europe’s busiest ports at the time.

A lot of Chinese seamen spilled from the boats (should I re-phrase that?) liked the look of the town, and stayed! ‘China Town’ in Liverpool dates from around 1870.

Not a lot of people know that! Except the Chinese of course!

Eric Roberts

Branch Secretary