Ambulance workers in Wales have told public services union UNISON today that morale is at an all-time low.

UNISON, which is the largest health union in Wales, is currently re-balloting those working in the Welsh Ambulance Service for industrial action over pay and conditions.

Staff in the sector have today (Thursday) said they are overworked with some being forced to make “soul-destroying” calls to tell patients an ambulance will not be available for them.

Ambulance worker Carol Roberts said: “We are simply unable to carry on firefighting shift upon shift.

“Crews are, on occasion, outside emergency departments looking after patients for more than 12 hours. They didn’t join the service to do this.

“Their radios are going off continually for the next job, but they are simply unable to respond. This is having a detrimental effect on their mental health, with many leaving or taking early retirement.”

Ms Roberts works providing telephone triage and said: “Our role is to call patients back, some with obvious stroke symptoms or the elderly who have fallen, and to tell them we aren’t sending an ambulance is utterly soul destroying.

“Nurses and paramedics didn’t join the service to do this.”

Ms Roberts added: “Morale throughout the Welsh Ambulance Service is at an all-time low.

“The time for talking, clearly has fallen on deaf ears and we simply have no other option than to ballot for industrial action.

“We have staff from our overworked clinical contact centre employees to road crews having to juggle childcare with working and worrying if they have enough fuel to drive to their base station.”

Gerynt Page who's worked for the ambulance service in Wales for 45 years said: “All grades of staff are experiencing burn out due to increasing service demands and a lack of hospital beds resulting in 999 off-loading at hospitals.

“A lack of care home places leads to bed blocking, which affects patient discharge and reduced GP provision meaning additional 999 calls.

“Staff morale is low as they try to maintain a broken health service in extreme circumstances whilst seeing their pay eroded over the last decade.”

UNISON Cymru/Wales met with Welsh government officials and the health minister Eluned Morgan earlier this month to explore what an offer of an additional financial package for health workers could look like.

UNISON Cymru/Wales head of health Hugh McDyer said: “It is encouraging that the Welsh government is prepared to get around the table with health unions in Wales unlike the UK government.

"But there must be an immediate and long-term solution to the ever-worsening crisis of pay and conditions for the many thousands of health workers across Wales.

“Ambulance workers are the very people we all rely on in a crisis and yet they are now being faced with a toxic combination of low pay, the worst cost-of living crisis in a generation and unprecedented demands on the vital services they provide.

“Industrial action is always a last resort but ambulance workers in Wales and across the UK are being left with no other choice.”