Ambulance staff are celebrating a landmark court victory which means they will be able to claim extra holiday pay because of their overtime.

The Court of Appeal has found in favour of a paramedic and a dozen of his colleagues from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust - which covers Hertfordshire and Essex - who argued their holiday pay should better reflect the hours they actually worked, rather than be based solely upon their contracted time.

The ruling could benefit thousands of NHS staff who put in hours above their contract to deal with ongoing emergencies or boost their own pay but the ambulance trust has confirmed it plans to appeal the findings.

The Unison union said the Government’s failure to recruit and retain enough staff means overtime has become the norm. However the trust has confirmed it has already instructed its legal teams to appeal the decision.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “Before this judgment, NHS workers who did regular overtime or often worked well beyond their shifts saw a drop in their pay whenever they took a well-deserved break.

“Leave calculations that weren’t based on the extra shifts and hours they did week in and week out meant many were considerably out of pocket. Unison always believed the rules around NHS pay already allowed for overtime and working beyond the end of a shift to be taken into account when calculating holiday pay.

“This is a victory for all those health service workers who regularly go the extra mile to make sure we receive the best care possible at all times of the day and night.”

A trust spokesman said: “We are not satisfied with the interpretation of the law in either of the judgements made.

“We remain concerned at the impact these decisions could have on ourselves and other NHS employers, and have instructed

our legal representatives to appeal.”

Unison is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in both the public and private sectors.