Ambulance Unison boss quits with blast at own union

There have been three deaths at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust this month. Picture: Casey Gutteridge.

There have been three deaths at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust this month. Picture: Casey Gutteridge.

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The chairman of the union representing the region's ambulance workers has quit with an attack on his own union.

Stephen Cutler was elected by members as chairman of the East of England Ambulance Service's Unison branch in March.

But in a post on Facebook last week he said he had resigned with immediate effect as he had been chairman "in name only".

He wrote that Unison's regional management prevented him negotiating with the EEAST's senior management, unless he signed an agreement which would have stopped the branch being able to campaign.

In that agreement he would also have to promise not to raise concerns about the EEAST with inspectors, including from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), or raise issues with MPs, without first getting approval from regional Unison management, he said.

"I was not prepared to allow this to happen," he wrote.

"With no indication this matter was going to be resolved, this has been a frustrating time for me as chair as I've seen policies not being completed and working conditions worsening for members."

He also said he would also be leaving Unison.

In 2018 Unison signed a "recognition agreement" with the EEAST promising it would not "routinely involve MPs" in disputes, would not report "matters of routine" to inspectors, would let the ambulance service know before it published anything in the press and would stop making "unfair comparisons" between the current leadership and the previous chief executive.

The agreement was meant to last for six months but is still in place.

A spokesman for Unison Eastern region said in response: "Mr Cutler was elected into the position of branch chair in March 2019 and after a number of attempts to meet and speak with him he has now chosen to leave Unison. We wish him well in the future.

"The Unison East of England Ambulance branch is now under new leadership who are focusing on supporting the needs of the members working in this sector."

The service is currently rated as 'requires improvement' by the CQC and rated as 'inadequate' for leadership.

The EEAST has not responded to request for comment.

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