SIPTU representatives met with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, today (Wednesday, 28th September) to discuss the implementation of the recommendations of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) Capacity Review which includes the employment of 600 new staff. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The meeting was constructive and we are optimistic that progress can be made to secure the long term future of the NAS. In a recent ballot, our members overwhelmingly backed the implementation of the recommendations of the Capacity Review and a number of other proposals which emerged from negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). “Our delegation also took the opportunity to outline our concerns on pay restoration, pay progression and pay justice. The Minister recognised pay justice as an issue which could be dealt with in an agreement to succeed the Lansdowne Road Agreement.” He added: “We also raised the urgent need for a job evaluation mechanism for ambulance professionals. The Minister responded positively to our position and we look forward to having further dialogue on this and related matters in the near future.” Irish Ambulance Representative Council (IARC) chairman, Peter Ray, said: “The Minister recognises the evolving and pivotal role that the NAS plays in the overall public health service. We expressed to the Minister our intention to deliver a service that is fully funded and fit for purpose, as outlined in the capacity review and the recent WRC facilitated agreement between the HSE, the Department of Health and SIPTU. This agreement averted a national all out strike by our members. “Adequate funds for the implementation of the capacity review’s recommendations in full is essential if the NAS is to deliver the standard of service that the public expect and deserve. It is to be hoped that the Minister will maintain a strong focus on the ambulance service into the future in respect of staffing, funding, capital investment, career development and training.”