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'Ticking time bomb' - Ambulance worker fears for colleagues' safety after sudden deaths

PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:30 27 November 2019

Staff at the East of England Ambulance Trust have raised concerns Picture: SIMON PARKER

Staff at the East of England Ambulance Trust have raised concerns Picture: SIMON PARKER

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Ambulance staff claim they are being pushed "beyond breaking point" and fear colleagues' health is at risk.

Patient handover delays at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals have increased significantly Picture: GREGG BROWNPatient handover delays at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals have increased significantly Picture: GREGG BROWN

An anonymous staff member has spoken out about conditions at the troubled East of England Ambulance Service Trust where three employees died suddenly between November 11 and 21.

The trust has set up a help line in response to the deaths - but the staff member felt the response failed to address the pressures colleagues faced.

MORE: Ambulance service sets up hotline after three staff members die in 11 days

They believed crews were working "beyond breaking point".

Luke Wright, 24, from Norwich died on November 10 2019 Picture: WRIGHT FAMILYLuke Wright, 24, from Norwich died on November 10 2019 Picture: WRIGHT FAMILY

"I fear we are sitting on a ticking time bomb," they said.

EEAST says it takes the wellbeing of staff "extremely seriously" and is working with staff and volunteers "to ensure that they have access to the most appropriate resources for their needs".

The staff member highlighted challenges with the "crisis" they claimed faced Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, where patient handover times have increased significantly, matching national trends.

EEAST's figures show staff lost almost 437 hours in October through transfer delays at Ipswich Hospital - up 70% from September.

Delays at Colchester Hospital also increased by 27% to 254 hours.

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A spokesman for the hospitals said they worked closely with EEAST to ensure handover delays were kept to a minimum and patients were safe.

The staff member said colleagues had been delayed by up to four hours in hospital corridors.

They said pressures made it almost impossible to take a "breather" as crews had to "green up" immediately for another job.

UNISON's regional organiser Sam Older said staff shortages and increased demand, meant staff were expected to do more than they could manage.

"Staff always go above and beyond but something has got to change," he added.

He called for more paid training programmes to encourage people into the profession.

Earlier this week it emerged an EEAST staff member had warned management in October that a toxic culture was leading to an increased risk of deaths.

EEAST's medical director Tom Davis said the trust was "extremely sad" about the deaths.

"The trust takes any concerns about the health and wellbeing of its staff extremely seriously and will always offer support to those staff who may require any help," he added.

For support call the Samaritans' 24/7 free helpline on 116123.

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