Suffolk: Union claims ambulance staff are “stretched to breaking point”

UNION chiefs have today called on ambulance bosses to halt planned cuts to frontline resources at a time when staff are “stretched to breaking point”.

In an open letter to chief executive Hayden Newton, UNISON claim the information used to plan rota changes is out of date and “flawed”.

But the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) said the idea is to have “the right staff on, in the right places when patients need them”.

The union claim the action will result in fewer double manned ambulances, used to transport patients to hospital, in favour of more rapid response vehicles (RRV).

Gary Applin, branch secretary says in the letter the addition of RRVs “might mean the trust meets its performance standards but it does not help those patients who are most vulnerable and need transporting to hospital”.

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He adds: “The Trust has, yet again, invested a large amount of money in a system based on the use of historic data to map where the resources will need to be in the future.

“This we feel is flawed as you can never predict 100% where the next 999 call is coming from.”

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He highlighted an incident in Essex last week when an injured cyclist had to be transported to a waiting air ambulance by furniture lorry because an ambulance en route to help was diverted to another call.

Mr Applin adds: “Resources are being stretched to breaking point currently – and this is without the resource reduction you seem to be determined to introduce.“

EEAST spokesman Gary Sanderson told the EADT: “We currently have as many staff on duty on Wednesday afternoons as we have on Friday night. Given that demand for ambulance services is much higher on Friday nights, this cannot be right and this is what we are seeking to address.

“EEAST is clear that operational rostas need to be changed across the region and will keep under constant review the level and type of resources required to meet the current 999 demand profile.”

Responding to the incident in Essex, Mr Sanderson added: “Ambulance crews at the scenes of any incidents have to ‘think quickly on their feet’ and make rapid decisions to treat and stabilise their patients.”

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