Trade union publishes film to highlight paramedics’ late finish problems
Trade union UNISON has made a film to highlight the impact of stress on frontline ambulance service staff after a recent survey revealed the number one cause of stress was late finishes.
UNISON says frontline staff routinely work 12-hour shifts, with only a 30-minute meal break.
Shifts can last up to 15 hours or more because staff are required to answer calls right up until the last second of their shift, regardless of where they are in the region.
Crews cover hundreds of miles, and can be far from their base station at the end of their shift.
Fraer Stevenson, UNISON's east of England branch secretary, said: 'We interviewed frontline staff across the east of England and the experiences they shared were very upsetting.
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'Many felt constantly exhausted from the relentless pressure over late finishes.
'Some broke down in tears and spoke about leaving the profession.'
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The survey showed that more than half the staff (847 out of 1541 staff surveyed) said they were considering leaving because of late finishes.
More than 230 staff have left the Trust in the last 12 months.
Talks are ongoing between the trust and staff on ways to improve the system to force fewer late finishes.
UNISON is calling for a 'fatigue clause' to allow staff to return to their base station towards the end of their shift when they believe that fatigue could prevent them carrying out their work with patients safely.
Fraer Stevenson said: 'Working for 12 hours is very demanding physically and often emotionally.
'It is right that at the end of their shift staff can go home to rest.'
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said: 'We recognise the impact late finishes have on our staff and this is one of our top priorities to address.
'We already have the most progressive late finish policies in place and we have been working closely with UNISON to develop proposals to help reduce late finishes.
'A further pilot has been launched today and in addition as hundreds more frontline staff are recruited and join the frontline, this will further ease the pressure on existing staff.'
UNISON have created a petition which asks the trusts to embrace their suggested changes to ensure fewer late finishes.
To see the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/east-of-england-ambulance-service-protect-frontline-ambulance-staff-from-late-finishes-by-implementing-unisons-proposals
To see the video visit https://vimeo.com/128919087