latest health care news

20.11.17

Union members call on ambulance trust chief executive to resign

GMB members have called for the chief executive of the South West Ambulance Service Trust (SWAST) to resign in an open letter.

The letter, which has been sent by ambulance professionals working for SWAST, apologised to the community for providing a less than adequate service.

In the letter, members claim to be neither classified as an emergency service by the government, nor “appreciated or cared for” by their employer.

It says: “Behind the professional facade we portray to the public we are struggling to maintain a crumbling service deliberately being underfunded by the government and made worse when those over pressured resources and stressed staff are then badly managed locally.”

It concludes by calling for the resignation of Ken Wenman, the trust’s chief executive in order to protect patients and staff.

Gary Palmer, GMB NHS campaign organiser, said that the union has been contacted regularly by its members and concerned staff over a number of “growing issues,” and that the letter reflects the general despair and frustration” experienced by many of the trust’s staff.

He claimed that SWAST is failing to address major issues, and that the toll of this is: “having an enormous effect upon increasing numbers of staff, as they consider whether they wish to remain within this particular ambulance service or not.”

Palmer continued: “GMB and its members being ignored by the chief executive and the trust is one thing, but their failing to be able to recognise the numerous issues and the effect they have upon many front line ambulance professionals within its own organisation and the patients they ultimately serve, means that Mr. Wenman has clearly not only lost touch or interest with his employees and the service, but has now also lost their respect as well.”

Ken Wenman, chief executive of SWAST, said: “Our staff are our most valuable asset.

“We simply cannot provide the critical care to our patients without them.

“We absolutely recognise the pressure that they are under and we are working hard with them and with Unison, the recognised union, to improve resource levels, to improve our response to our patients and to improve the health and wellbeing of our staff.

“We are proud of the way that we work closely with all union representatives on behalf of our staff, including GMB, and so it is disappointing that these comments have gone to the media, rather than to us here at the trust, especially given the meetings that we have recently hosted with GMB representatives where such concerns could have been raised.

“We would urge the GMB to re-engage and talk to us directly.”

Top Image: Graham Richardson

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