In view of the overnight closure of the A & E department at Weston General Hospital, and reports of patients waiting up to two hours for an ambulance, these latest reports from GMB can only add to concerns. With reductions to public sector workers, now reported to be the lowest for seventy years, the Conservative government is neglecting staff and patients.
GMB INVESTIGATION REVEALS OVERWORKED FRONTLINE AMBULANCE STAFF FORCED TO TAKE 80,000 SICK DAYS DUE TO STRESS
Twelve per cent of all paramedics and ambulance health care assistants in England were sick due to stress or anxiety last year.
GMB, the union for ambulance staff, has revealed 12 per cent of all ambulance staff were forced to take a total of more than 80,000 sick days due to stress last year. A total of 2,468 paramedics and health care assistants – or one in eight workers – had to take time off due to stress. The total number of days lost across England was 81,668 on the financial year 2016/17.
The shocking figures come from a series of Freedom of Information requests sent by GMB to all ten Ambulance Trusts in England. In two of the trusts – East Midlands Ambulance and North East Ambulance – a shocking 23 per cent and 22 per cent of frontline staff took sick days due to stress. [See note 1 for regional breakdown].
GMB is campaigning for the paramedic retirement age to be equalised with other physically demanding front-line emergency service roles, such as police officers and firefighters who are able to retire at 60.
Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer, said:
“These disturbing figures once again prove what we already know – that our frontline ambulance workers are in the midst a stress and anxiety epidemic.
“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 per cent of the whole workforce is sick with stress.
“Theresa May needs to stop buying her head in the sand and start listening to front-line ambulance workers.
“Workforce numbers haven’t kept pace with sharply rising demand.
“Forcing ambulance staff to work up to the age of 68 is another major cause of stress. There’s no justification for treating paramedics differently to comparable physically demanding front-line 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.
“If any patients lose their lives as a result, the blame falls fairly and squarely on an uncaring Tory Government for not dealing with stress and anxiety of our frontline emergency staff.
“It’s time paramedics and other ambulance staff workers got the support they deserve.”
 Paramedic and other ambulance staff absences due to stress, anxiety and related conditions in 2016/17
iGMB asked Ambulance Trusts to provide “details of how many of your paramedics and emergency care assistants have taken time of work due to stress in the financial year 2016 – 2017.”
Employment totals for the financial year 2016/17 are taken from the March 2017 ‘Organisation Tables’ of NHS England’s NHS Workforce Statistics - March 2017 publication: http://www.content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB24214