More paramedics quitting NHS jobs
At least 1,015 paramedics left their job in 2013-14, compared with 593 in the same period two years earlier. London Ambulance Service saw 223 paramedics leave in 2013-14, four times the number in 2011-12, and the largest increase in the country. An internal document, produced by London Ambulance Service suggests morale among paramedics is low. It says three-quarters of paramedics surveyed had considered leaving the service in the past 12 months. But this is not just a London problem.
Association of Ambulance Chief Executives chairman Anthony Marsh says a surge in 999 calls this year and higher numbers of paramedics leaving some services, means the remaining front-line staff are facing pressures that are “greater than they’ve ever been”. This growth in emergency calls has outpaced the rise in numbers of qualified ambulance staff, which has increased on average by 1.6% each year in England over the past decade.
Dr Fiona Moore, medical director for London Ambulance Service, estimates there is a shortfall nationally of up to 3,000 paramedics. She said expectations of what the service is for have also changed. “We’ve seen an increase in calls from the 21- to 30-year-old group, and I think that now reflects the sort of supermarket culture we now have, so if you can buy a loaf of bread at 04:00 in the morning, why can’t you access your healthcare when it’s convenient to you?”
The trust in London is taking action to try to reduce staff workloads, and improve the service. This year the Department of Health has provided £28m to ambulance trusts to help cope with the extra emergency calls.
Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal, comments: “This is a worrying trend but not unsurprising given the pressure that ambulance crews are under. Targets are frequently not able to be met which reduces their morale further and causes concern for the patients. Demand is outstripping the supply and more and more calls are being placed. Recruitment is an issue and it is unfortunate that paramedics are now leaving the service because of the strain and effect of their job”.
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