Suffolk: Ambulance rota change will hit staff morale, Unison warns

Morale of staff in jeopardy following new rota changes

Ambulance staff morale will plummet further when rota changes are introduced as part of an initiative to improve cover, union officials warned.

The East of England Ambulance Service is investing �3million to improve cover across the eastern region following a surge in calls.

A spokesman for the service said the extra resources will be focused on areas that most need it.

The investment comes after two incidents in which patients waited more than an hour for an ambulance. The trust blamed the delays on a high number of calls.

However, Gary Applin, branch secretary of the East of England Ambulance Unison Branch, remained sceptical about the rota changes.

“It will help a bit but I still think there will be a tremendous increase in calls,” he said. “The whole system of how they go about allocating and planning their resources needs to be seriously looked at.”

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The ambulance service spokesman admitted some of the money will be put towards paying staff overtime.

Mr Applin added: “Crews are exhausted at the moment. They are getting frustrated about the volume of calls and lack of resources so to me, I think it will make morale worse than it is – if that is possible.”

An ambulance spokesman said: “The extra investment is fantastic news for the service and has given us the opportunity to further review our new rota system before it is put in place.

“Trust-wide it will mean more emergency cover at the places where it is needed most.”

Latest figures have revealed an exceptional and sustained rise in demand since April over and above that which was predicted, a picture which is reflected nationally.

In August, the Star reported on an elderly man who had to wait an hour for an ambulance with blood pouring from his head after a fall in Ipswich. The service blamed the delay on a high demand in calls.

An increased number of calls was also the reason given for a similar delay when Felixstowe and Walton United footballer Tommy Childs, who suffered a broken leg while playing in a match, waited more than an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

Hayden Newton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, said the investment showed the trust’s commitment to offer the best service.

He said: “This shows our commitment as promised previously to continuously monitor demand and amend rotas accordingly to ensure we offer the best service possible to our patients within our resources.

“Norfolk and Suffolk formed the first phase of the rota changes and we are currently working out what additional vehicles will be allocated there and in Essex, which formed phase two.”