Ambulance Watch: Health minister criticises private firm for allowing East of England Ambulance Service cover staff to stay on campsite

IB-9-QEH-10-12-2008

- Credit: IAN BURT

One of the private ambulance firms used by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has been criticised by a government health minister.

It has emerged that ERS Medical staff have been staying at a Cambridgeshire campsite when travelling from out of the area to work for the firm.

Staff are hired from private contractors when EEAST needs cover and six workers, who live in other parts of the country, have been staying at a campsite near Huntingdon.

ERS Medical said it paid allowances of £35 a day to the staff, describing it as 'above the industry norm'.

But Dan Poulter, health minister and MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: 'It's something I find very difficult to accept as being good conditions in which to house staff who have patients' lives in their hands. This is clearly something the ambulance trust will want to look at immediately.'


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An EEAST spokesman said: 'The quality of our service delivery is of upmost importance so before working in partnership with us, private ambulance organisations must undergo a thorough trust-accredited process and meet stringent criteria.'

However an ERS spokesman insisted the six staff staying at the campsite were happy with the arrangement, saying: 'We always provide suitable financial support to ensure that all crews have sufficient rest between shifts.

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'We have specifically questioned our crews as to the suitability of the campsite and have received unequivocal responses that say it's a great site with appropriate facilities and that they enjoy good sleep and comfort. They are not at risk.'

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