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Ambulance services hit back at Unison report

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 11, 2014

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Ambulance trusts serving Burton and South Derbyshire have dismissed claims that they are ‘on the verge of breaking down’ as an increasing number of staff are unable to cope with the level of stress involved.

Unison, the largest health union in the UK, says that tight targets, long hours and the physical demands of the job place an ‘enormous burden’ on ambulance workers. In a survey of 1,332 NHS ambulance workers, 34 per cent said they had taken time off due to work-related stress in the past year.

The report also stated that others admit to suffering in silence as they are too scared of the repercussions. In addition, a large proportion of respondents said management had not taken any steps to remove or reduce stress, despite having a legal duty to do so. There were also claims made by an anonymous paramedic claiming that shifts over run and breaks are sporadic.

However, WMAS has hit back at the findings, stating that it regards the health, safety and welfare as its staff as a top priority.

A spokesman for the West Midlands Ambulance Service told the Mail: “The Trust consistently reports some of, if not the lowest, sickness rates amongst ambulance services nationally. The Trust is committed to reduce sickness absence to a target of four per cent.

“This is a target set locally and is not an industry average. WMAS has seen a significant reduction in sickness figures this year compared to last.”

“Hours of duty worked by ambulance staff is regulated and carefully monitored. Rest time and meal break hours are provided within a specified time frame and interrupted rest and meal breaks are kept to an absolute minimum.”

A spokesman for East Midlands Ambulance Service also dismissed the claims made by Unison. He said: “We treat stress seriously and have a proactive approach to support colleagues.

“We continue to work closely with our unions to improve staff engagement and communications, including promotion of a campaign this month to promote a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder support network.

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