Unite Scotland has today welcomed a Scottish government u-turn over the initial refusal to prioritise Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) control room workers for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Last week, Unite raised concerns over potential outbreaks which could bring the nation’s emergency response units to a shutdown including SAS and NHS24. Around 500 workers are employed by SAS as control room handlers. The Scottish government had argued that both workforces are not ‘patient facing’ and do not qualify for the immediate prioritisation of the vaccination programme. However, following pressure from the nation’s leading trade union the Scottish government agreed to defer the decision to SAS management who are now planning to vaccinate control room workers nationwide. The first vaccination was delivered today at 07.15 with a programme being delivered over four days.

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: “Unite is delighted that following our pressure the Scottish government agreed to defer the decision for vaccinating control room workers to the Scottish Ambulance Service who agreed with us that all their workforce should be prioritised. It was a bizarre position for the Scottish government to initially not prioritise the workers because they are not ‘patient facing’. Without them we don’t have an effective service so it’s a relief for the workers and we welcome that by the end of this week all control room staff will now receive the vaccination.”