Sunday 01 October 2023
Select a region

Can the ambulance dispute be resolved?

Can the ambulance dispute be resolved?

Thursday 23 January 2020

Can the ambulance dispute be resolved?

Thursday 23 January 2020

Alderney's volunteer ambulance crew say they are still willing to return to work, under certain conditions, in a bid to end their dispute with the island's authorities.

Mel Walden was sacked as Chief Officer last year, with her volunteer crew members walking out in support of her.

Initially, staff and volunteers from Guernsey's St John Ambulance covered shifts to keep the ambulance service available for any emergencies, while a new cohort of volunteers were trained to take on the service in the new year. 

But Mrs Walden isn't giving up in her efforts to return to work, alongside her former crew members.

This week she has written to Alderney States Members, outlining her concerns over the way her dismissal was dealt with. 

mel walden alderney ambulance

Pictured: Mel Walden speaking to Alderney States Members late last year. 

In her letter, addressed to "All States Members", she said she was never given a verbal warning, a first written warning or a second written warning as required under UK employment legislation. She has also said she was never given a chance to review a report into the Alderney Ambulance Service which is said to have been critical of the service and Mrs Walden as Chief Officer.

Mrs Walden wrote that as a result of her unfair dismissal, a number of consequences have occurred, including dividing the island, and destroying friendships. 

Since that letter was sent to the island's States Members, a second letter has been sent this time from the Alderney Ambulance Crew, again to All States Members.

The volunteer crew have offered the island's government a "proposition" which they feel would solve the ongoing dispute between the AAS and the States.

They are offering to return to duty, for a period of no less than six months, under Mrs Walden's leadership, "on precisely the same basis as our service with AAS Ltd, but working for and reporting to the States via a P&F appointee."

The crew say this would mean their collective "combined total of more than 120 years of frontline ambulance experience" would not be wasted.

As "the service is no longer under the control of the two remaining directors of the AAS company, we feel that the continuation of our dispute with them is no longer best served by continuing to withhold our skills from the emergency service we love," the volunteers said.

Since the original ambulance crew went on strike, the States of Alderney have recruited and trained new volunteers to run the AAS. The former crew say those new skills would not be lost as they could all work together.

"Any of the new volunteers who wish to stay on call would be welcomed by us, mentored and receive training towards ACA and EMT qualifications."

Alderney ambulance

Pictured: Alderney's ambulances themselves were criticised in the review of the service, as a number of faults were said to be found with some of the lifesaving equipment they carry. 

The new volunteers are reporting to Alderney's Fire Officer which the former ambulance crew say offers some challenges, but that everyone could work together to overcome them for the greater good.

"The Fire Officer and his crew members would be released from a task that they have been obliged to undertake, but which they didn’t sign up for as firefighters. The safety benefit of this is obvious in cases where both emergency services are called to an incident involving a serious fire risk AND the treatment and transport of casualties. 

"Whilst providing an immediate return to a fully trained, two vehicle operation, this 6 month period would also allow time for the States to fully investigate the circumstances leading up to the collapse of AAS. It would give time for the States to properly consider all options for future ambulance service provision, including, but not limited to, the recovery plan put forward to States Members by Mrs Walden."

As well as the threatened loss of a vital health service, Mrs Walden and her former crew members say the impact on the community has been harmful and they want to work together to repair that damage.

"The 'Ambulance Dispute' has created deep rifts in our small community and caused harm to the reputations of people who have only ever tried to provide the best ambulance service for Alderney. It has resulted in a reduced ambulance cover and tied up human resources of the Fire Service, reducing their resilience. This is an opportunity for you, as States Members, to help repair and rebuild what has been destroyed over the past 7 weeks."

Sign up to newsletter


What next?


Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.

There are no comments for this article.

To place a comment please login

You have landed on the Bailiwick Express website, however it appears you are based in . Would you like to stay on the site, or visit the site?