20.09.17

Stress of job leads 12% of paramedics to take sick days

Overworked paramedics and ambulance staff took 80,000 sick days last year due to the stress and high pressure of the job, it has been revealed.

This means that in 2016-17, more than one in 10 (12%) of all ambulance staff were sick at some point due to stress and anxiety, while one in eight were forced to take time off because of this.

The figures, released by the GMB, also showed that the total number of days lost across England was staggeringly high, at 81,668 during the last financial year.

This was highest in two trusts – East Midlands Ambulance and North East Ambulance – where a shocking 23% and 22% of frontline staff respectively had to take time off.

“These disturbing figures once again prove what we already know – that our frontline ambulance workers are in the midst a stress and anxiety epidemic,” said Kevin Brandstatter, GMB national officer.

“They are consistently overworked, underpaid and expected to do incredibly difficult jobs – such as dealing with the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster or Manchester bombings – without adequate staff or resources. It’s no wonder almost 12% of the whole workforce is sick with stress.”

Brandstatter argued that part of the problem was that workforce levels were not keeping pace with sharply rising demand.

“Forcing ambulance staff to work up to the age of 68 is another major cause of stress” he continued. “There’s no justification for treating paramedics differently to comparable physically demanding frontline roles.

“The absences caused by staff shortages and overwork are already contributing to potential delays in the attending incidents. The absence of staff due to stress will only compound this situation. It’s time paramedics and other ambulance staff workers got the support they deserve.”

Today’s news come hot on the heels of findings from the Press Association that showed demand for ambulance services was pushing trusts to increasingly rely on private providers to supply services.

It also follows multiple reports of what has effectively been described as a paramedic exodus from the health service, with the rate of professionals leaving the NHS nearly doubling in a year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health stated: "Our dedicated paramedics do a vital and challenging job, and in recognition of their heroic responsibilities we've agreed a deal with unions to move them further up the NHS pay scale, increasing the maximum they can earn by 25%.

"We're also helping existing staff workloads by recruiting 2,600 more paramedics since 2010, as well as training record numbers of new paramedics.”

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