§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I am very pleased that the ambulance dispute has now ended. I would like to pay tribute to the chief ambulance officers and those of their staff who remained in post, the armed forces, the police and voluntary services who have helped to maintain accident and emergency services for the public in many parts of the country during this difficult period.
The cost of the settlement can be afforded by the National Health Service without damage to the continued expansion of patient services. It widens the differential between paramedically trained staff and other staff which is a sensible improvement in the pay structure that the management wished to introduce. The settlement will also make it easier for management to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the service at local level by introducing local pay flexibility that will enable managers to devote part of savings actually achieved to improvements in local pay.