Suffolk: Paramedics “incensed” at rota changes

suffolk: Paramedics are “incensed” at new measures they claim will leave patients waiting longer for ambulances to transport them to hospital.

Staff at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) are currently involved in consultations over the trust’s new policies to distribute crews to areas where demand is highest.

Gary Applin, Suffolk secretary for Unison, has attended four of the meetings.

He told the Star: “Staff are mortified at the plans. I thought at one meeting I was going to have a riot on my hands.

“Staff can only see a loss of resources on the road, able to transport patients.

“They see solo responders waiting longer on scene for ambulances to take people to hospital. Staff are absolutely incensed.”

He cast doubt over the viability of the trust’s plans, citing an “ever-increasing population and ever-increasing calls volume” as hurdles.

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Figures obtained by the Star reveal the number of calls received by the ambulance service has risen by around 20 per cent from 718,000 in 2007/08 to 863,000 last year.

Mr Applin said while a new triage system will cut down on some calls, it is not expected to make a huge dent in the figures.

It comes as the trust faces a loss of �50million in the next five years.

Mr Applin has urged the trust to join forces with other trusts to lobby the government.

“As a collective they can tell the government they cannot achieve what they need to with these funds,” he said.

“If they tell the government patients are at risk, politicians will have to listen.”

Hayden Newton, chief executive of EEAST, told the Star the changes to staff rotas are vital if the service is to improve.

He said the aim is to ensure the trust has “the right vehicles in the right place at the right time”.

“I have spoken to many staff who recognise the need for these changes,” he said. “Rotas have not changed in the last ten to 12 years.

“We are ineffective in some places and until we can show we are doing everything possible to match demand I am not prepared to ask the government for more money.”

n Tell us your experiences of the ambulance service. E-mail health reporter Lizzie Parry at lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk or call 01473 324739.