AMBULANCE crews in Scotland have warned a failure to get adequate breaks is putting lives at risk as they overwhelmingly backed strike action.

A ballot of GMB Scotland members in the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) voted 93% in favour of industrial action as many report having to work through their breaks due to staffing pressures.

The union said patients, staff and other road users are being put at risk when the frontline workers are asked to attend emergencies during their breaks.

Staff are entitled to breaks totalling 40 minutes in a 12-hour shift.

It comes after a two-month trial was launched in August where dispatchers were told crews on a break should only be disturbed to attend the most serious call-outs or if no other ambulance was available for 25 minutes.

However, Karen Leonard, GMB Scotland organiser in the ambulance service, has told the SAS chief executive Michael Dickson that the trial has failed to secure adequate breaks.

READ MORE: Victims of Stonehaven rail crash secure nearly £1 million in damages

She said: “The failure to ensure crews are properly rested has been an increasing cause of concern for years.

“Crews were once told it was because of Covid, now turnaround times are hospitals are being blamed. Enough is enough.

“The strength of feeling and deepening frustration of staff is reflected in the result of this ballot.

“For many reasons, not least the welfare of crews and the safety of patients, proper breaks must be an essential and secure part of every shift.

READ MORE: Ian Murray: Labour can't rule out further use of Section 35

“Breaks are not a luxury but a necessity and it is beyond time for managers to understand that and ensure crews are properly rested when asked to driver under blue lights, diagnose patients and administer drugs.”

It is understood managment is expected to discuss the issue with unions in the coming days.

However, GMB Scotland is warning the consultative ballot, which had a 70% turnout, will be followed by a formal vote on strike action if there is no clear action taken.

The Scottish Ambulance Service has been approached for comment.