East of England Ambulance trialing scheme to combat staff’s late finishes

An East of England Ambulance. Photo: Steve Adams

An East of England Ambulance. Photo: Steve Adams

Paramedics are being given the option of volunteering for call-outs in their last hour of work which could mean non-emergency patients facing less ambulance waiting-time.

The scheme comes as East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) tries to reduce staff's late finishes without compromising patient safety.

It coincides with EEAST finally having a permanent chief executive in office - as new boss Robert Morton began work at the trust yesterday.

EEAST says the idea has been proposed by 'some frontline and control-room staff.'

But Fraer Stevenson, UNISON's east of England branch secretary, said it was 'not clear' how the plan would help reduce late finishes - and hopes Mr Morton will provide 'strong leadership' on the issue.

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The trust and UNISON have previously agreed that crews close to finishing their shift will not be sent to Green calls (less urgent) - instead only being available for Red 1 and Red 2 calls, which are for patients with life-threatening conditions.

But this pilot has now been extended.

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The trust has allowed staff to volunteer to be available for a green or urgent call in their last hour at work.

The reasoning behind this is that frontline staff dealing with a patient with a less serious condition could finish that job faster than treating someone in a critical condition and transporting them to hospital.

If staff choose to volunteer it means the trust will have more crews available to send out to Green calls.

An EEAST spokesman said: 'We are working hard to find the right solutions that are safe for patients and better for staff.'

Miss Stevenson said: 'Earlier this year we evidenced late finishes as the number one stress factor of staff and the main reason why frontline staff were leaving.

'We will be looking to Robert Morton to provide strong leadership over this issue to support his frontline staff and better protect them over this serious health and safety issue.'

Mr Morton will this week visit ambulance stations and meet staff and student paramedics.

What do you think?

Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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