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: Edinburgh summit sees £5.5m pledged to worldwide cancer research

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.

The Herald: Ambulance

"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 management are 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.

Read More: Victims of Stonehaven rail crash receive £1m in Network Rail settlement

A spokesperson for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "We recognise the pressure facing our staff as a result of wider NHS demand and delays in handovers at hospitals.

"We know that, on occasion, ambulance crews, like many other NHS staff, are not able to take breaks in optimum conditions, which is why we are working in partnership with trade union colleagues to update the current rest break policy and procedures to ensure we enable staff to take breaks in a timely manner.

"As part of our demand and capacity programme, we have recruited an additional 458 staff to increase capacity and ease pressures on our staff. We've also adopted guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in relation to fatigue scoring to reduce the risks associated with fatigue."