AMBULANCE staff are demanding an end to the “unfair” way in which requests for annual leave are handled by bosses.

GMB members at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWAST) are seeking to get their employer to consult with GMB over “on-going, persistent and unfair” refusals of annual leave requests for workers.

GMB claim that members have little or no control of when they can plan or take their annual leave, with staff often experiencing 10 or more refusals.

Gary Palmer, GMB regional organiser, said: “Members are fed up having application after application for annual leave turned down.

“They understand the stresses upon the organisation because they deal with the effects of those strains on a day to day basis when providing emergency clinical services across over 10,000 square miles of West and South West England.

“Access to annual leave when you want it is unreliable at best and non-existent at worst, so when you and your family plan possibly the one event or holiday for the year, many of our members are finding themselves having to make their way into work even when off shift at midnight to try and get lucky in being granted annual leave 12 months in advance.”

Mr Palmer suggested that the “first class medical service” provided by front line ambulance staff would be compromised if SWAST didn’t think more about the welfare of staff.

In response, the ambulance service said they are “keen to address the points raised” and stressed their duty to ensure there are suitable numbers of staff working at any given time.

A spokesman for South Western Ambulance Service said: “This is the first time this concern has been flagged to us and we are keen to address the points raised with our staff through the appropriate channels.

“The trust has a duty to ensure there are enough staff on duty to meet demand. However, we are clear that once this core principal has been met consideration is given to ensure rotas are socially acceptable to staff.

“Staff welfare is a priority for us and we have a number of mechanisms in place for staff to raise concerns including through their line manager, through online forums and chat rooms and an anonymous email system.”