A union says plans to reduce the number of staff and vehicles delivering emergency response services will put patients at risk.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Unison officers say the East of England Ambulance Service plans will mean patients in rural areas will wait longer for a response in an emergency, and even then it will be likely to be a solo responder incapable of transporting patients to hospital.

The union says the service has held a number of vacancies empty and has already removed 110 posts and intends to remove up to a further 150 posts from the budgeted establishment, although the service has not confirmed these figures.

Although there are no ambulance stations closing as a direct result of these changes, the union says they will result in there being fewer or no ambulances capable of transporting patients at several stations across all counties within the region at certain times of the day and night.

Examples given by Unison include a 50pc reduction in double staffed ambulances in Ely and in Cromer, and North Walsham will lose one double staffed ambulance.

Gary Applin, branch secretary for Unison, said: “The proposed scaling down of resources across all areas will put patients at risk.

“The trust’s own figures show that in many areas, staffing levels will be below what is needed for many hours of the day. “In rural areas, patients will wait for longer for any member of trust staff to attend in an emergency and even then it is likely that will be a solo responder and therefore incapable of transporting them straight to hospital.”

He added: “These changes will also have a detrimental effect on the work life balance of our members who may be required to travel longer distances to work, and, while at work have to travel longer distances under emergency conditions on unfamiliar roads to get to people in need. Unison represents all trust employees and we urge trust management to develop alternative proposals and the Conservative/Lib Dem government to reverse the spending cuts for ambulance trusts. The public are going to suffer because of these cuts.’’

The Eastern Daily Press first reported in May 2011 on the ambulance service’s plans reduce its intensive care ambulance fleet size from 276 to 138 vehicles and increase its response car fleet from 145 to 232 vehicles. It could also increase its “intermediate tier” vehicles from 21 to 105, which Unison says would look the same as traditional ambulances, but instead of being double staffed by band five or six paramedics, would instead be staffed by emergency care practitioners or assistants and therefore unable to transport the most critically ill patients.

The East of England Ambulance Service said it was not making any front line staff redundant and it was making changes to the way it works because of three challenges: an ever increasing number of 999 calls, making savings through more efficient working of more than £50m over five years and improving the quality of services to patients.

A spokeswoman for the service said: “We are treating more people through a more in depth clinical assessment over the phone so they can be referred to the correct health service or given advice – already more than 900 patients a week are being managed by our clinicians without the need for an ambulance to be sent giving the patient a more tailored response to their needs.

“It is estimated that as this service continues to build, we will be managing up to 170,000 calls a year through this process. This is better for the patient, a more efficient way of working and frees up ambulances to respond to people in the local community who need them.”

It says this has allowed it to remove a number of existing vacant posts and it will be putting some of the remaining vacant posts back into rural areas at a cost of £400,000 as part of our promise to improve services for patients there, as well as recruiting more than 110 new emergency care assistants (ECAs) by the end of October this year and up to 10 more paramedics in Cambridgeshire.

The spokeswoman said: “The nature of demand is changing and it is true we are, following much work with sophisticated demand prediction modelling, changing the balance of vehicles as we need less double staffed ambulances (transporting vehicles) and more rapid response vehicles (which are fully equipped and staffed by trained paramedics), and we will be allocating these to the optimum standby points to better match and meet demand in the best interests of our patients.”

However, Unison says there is no evidence that this triage system will be successful, and has called for it to be properly resourced and tested before plans are made to reduce ambulances and staff.

The ambulance service said it disputes the figures quoted by Unison, as these have yet to be decided as optimum vehicle locations and numbers have not yet been worked out and there is ongoing demand analysis work and a consultation with staff to reach the final figures.

However, Unison said it had been given the figures by the ambulance service in a consultation document, which the service refused to show to the EDP, saying it wanted to share it with staff first.

16 comments

  • Julygirl......you took the words right out of my mouth.... I just cant help thinking that this government of ours wont rest until the NHS is destroyed. Lets just hope that they arent able to do this before then next election..

    Report this comment

    Babelfish

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Can I just point out the following: An Emergency Care Practitioner (ECP) is an experienced paramedic that has gone extended further educationtrainingmentorship in primary healthcarewound carepalliative care. they are perfectly able to deal effectively with seriously ill patients in the pre hospital area and hold registration as paramedics An Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) is a medical assistant, trained to drive the ambulance and assist the technicianparamedic

    Report this comment

    med

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • Perhaps if a bit less money had been wasted on rubbish like torch relays and Olympic opening ceremonies, there might be funds available for essentials like ambulances.

    Report this comment

    julygirl

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • This is absolutely disgusting. We depend on these heroes day in day out. They already struggle to cope on a daily basis. It may be that some of the 999 callers can be dealt with via telephone advice only, however as a nation we are getting older and our health ailments inevitably affect us more. This means we need more help. When you are afflicted with a stroke, heart attack or something similar you need an AMBULANCE to get you to hospital quickly. This sounds like you will you have to wait much, much longer for one. I have very close connections to the Ambulance service and I already know that lives are being lost because of uncovered shifts. We need more Paramedics not less. My contact tells me that on their most recent shift, a 30 mile dash on blue lights to a serious road accident meant that the patient did not survive. Only serious opposition can change this. Please public support your Ambulance service. You may well need our help one day and when your closest Ambulance has to come from Ipswich, Cambridge or Peterborough, don't complain unless you fought these ridiculous cuts.

    Report this comment

    swnorwich

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • All about saving or making money for the company providing the service. It will mean people will die in the Ely area where hospitals can be along way from the sick- peoplein East Cambs have to go to Hinchingbroke or Addenbrokes. The minor roads are bad-narrow and with bad subsidence in places- and while distances might look ok as the crow flies the nature of the landscape means routes are often tortuous. Replacing proper ambulances with fast response will mean in the event of serious incidents or accidents there will be a risk that there will not be enough vehicles to convey victims to hospital in time.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • so the truth is slowly coming out!!! the government are trying to close the NHS down and privatised it all by getting rid of our very very good ambulances and staff in favour of a voice on the end of a phone who then basically asks you a tick box questionaire to diagnose your own medical crisis before deciding what treatment you actually need.where is our friendly MP norman lamb he usually jumps on this sort of bandwagon but then i suppose he is playing at train controller this week. i hope for all our sakes we are not stranded in the middle of nowhere and are suffering a heart attack it would take an hour to describe the symptoms then say the wrong thing so it is put in a different catagory then you wait another hour for transport to the nearest hospital. this country gets worse!!!!!!

    Report this comment

    i am mostly wrong??

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • This news is a joke, on the 19th June,2012 my wife was taken ill at work in Norwich, an ambulance was called at 11.30am and by 1.30pm the ambulance still had not arrived, and that was after 3 follow up calls to the Ambulance control trying to get an estimated time an ambulance would arrive, and they could not give a time, so after 2hrs 30 minutes the ambulance the ambulance was cancelled due to the fact a time could not be given to its arrival. absolutely disgusting service...

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Footyboy16 - I'm sorry to hear that....please tell me you made a formal complaint to the service.

    Report this comment

    swnorwich

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • The trouble is two things really, the main one being the 999 system gets missed used. And I would say about 90% of calls ain't a 999 life threating emergency. Most of the calls are either for ongoing problems, problems that you can help and treat yourself at home with or go see your gp or walk in centre, and the biggest type of job is falls, mostly non injury falls where you don't need a 999 ambulance, it's a social problem not a medical emergency if they just need a hand up. There is falls teams in place and people should use them. Also the amout of calls we go to say "well we thought a check out was needed to check their pulse and blood pressure" god sake see your gp. People remember 999 is for LIFE threathing calls only!!!!!!!!

    Report this comment

    OnlyMe2011

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Yes, we have made a complaint to the Service, who said they will look into it and get back to us with 28 days, can't imagine what they are going to say !! Sorry I expect.. and that isn't good enough..

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • July girl has it spot on with the untold billions spent on the Olympics. Two weeks when professional athletes arrive to win Amateur medals. These two weeks followed by decades of debt repayment by the taxpayer. The Tories are in the advanced stage of privatising the NHS and the dismantling of the Ambulance service is part of it. But the statement by the spokeswoman of the Ambulance service is a wonderful piece of gobbledygook. She should look to a career in politics. The phrase " much work with sophisticated demand modelling " is truly wonderful. And followed by the final flourish of " in the best interests of our patients."The simpler version would be " We are cutting the service so suck it up and do not get sick".

    Report this comment

    norman hall

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • My previous comment was censored for some reason. No swearing or political content. Just a critique of the spokeswoman of the Ambulance service who used words like " sophisticated demand prediction modelling ". Anybody knows what that means? Except that the service is going to get worse for the public. Stephen Watson made comment about the whereabouts of Mr Lamb MP . Well he was well satisfied with the NHS being allowed to have up to 49% of its resources made available to the private sector.He did vote for that particular bill .So I doubt that he will be too troubled by this latest cut back in essential services.

    Report this comment

    norman hall

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • thank you to all the posters on here i thought i was the only one who thought this country was going downhill but reading your posts i can see im not.sorry to hear of wife footyboy16 hope shes ok now i had a friend who waited 3 hours for an ambulance after a stroke sadly he passed away three weeks later.

    Report this comment

    i am mostly wrong??

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • This really is disgusting. Patients are already waiting 30 mins to one hour or even longer in Norfolk and Suffolk for an ambulance for a life threatening emergency. It's a pity the government couldn't put it's own people first for once instead of wasting billions on overseas aid, Europe, Afghanistan and Olympics. Why should people in rural areas have to endure such a terrible service when nearby areas such as Essex and Bedfordshire (part of the same ambulance service) do not. We pay the same taxes after all.

    Report this comment

    Adam L

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • .....would instead be staffed by emergency care practitioners or assistants and therefore unable to transport the most critically ill patients.....Is that unable to or not allowed to, there is a difference? I wouldn't think critically ill patients would be too fussy in emergencies.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

  • This really is disgusting. Patients are already waiting 30 mins to one hour or even longer in Norfolk and Suffolk for an ambulance for a life threatening emergency. It's a pity the government couldn't put it's own people first for once instead of wasting billions on overseas aid, Europe, Afghanistan and Olympics. Why should people in rural areas have to endure such a terrible service when nearby areas such as Essex and Bedfordshire (part of the same ambulance service) do not. We pay the same taxes after all.

    Report this comment

    Adam L

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 10°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT