Striking paramedic ready to quit as he lifts the lid on hospital chaos within 'broken' NHS

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With Wednesday’s ambulance strike poised to cripple services across Britain, a paramedic has offered a sobering insight into the pressure he and his colleagues are under. And the London Ambulance Service employee, who has almost 30 years’ experience at the sharp end, has said he is seriously considering taking early retirement, admitting the job was taking a toll on his mental health.

Paramedics who are members of the UNISON union are set stage a 24-hour walkout tomorrow, and another one on January 24, in a protest related to pay and conditions.

In a comment piece for Express.co.uk, Dave (not his real name) said: “This is probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in a career of 28 years. I don’t want to go on strike on Wednesday, I really don’t.

“When I started in the ambulance service, it was ambulances waiting for calls, waiting for patients, and if we didn’t have many calls, that’s great because that means many people didn’t suffer or, or didn’t need the requirements an ambulance.

“Now the coin has flipped and patients that are seriously ill are waiting for ambulances.”

This was happening because a lack of social care funding, meaning so-called “bed blockers” were unable to be moved because there was nowhere safe for them to be moved to, Dave, who is aged in his 50s, explained.

READ MORE: NHS is not at breaking point – it’s completely broken, says AMBULANCE PARAMEDIC

“What I can say is without identifying anyone, there have been cases where patients have rang for an ambulance and crews have turned up maybe three, four or five hours later and the patient is deceased.”

Dave continued: “It takes its toll on our mental health, it takes our stress levels to another level and leading on from that it also, it also makes us consider our careers, me included.

“Blaming Covid for causing this problem, as the Government has done recently, or flu, is wrong. We’ve had flu for years, it’s called winter pressures.

Dave stressed: “It’s not really about pay. I don’t want to go on strike on Wednesday, I really don’t.

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“When politicians say we shouldn’t be going on strike, I agree, we shouldn’t be going on strike.

“But if the politicians are saying this, come and talk to us. We’re up for negotiations.

“The union hasn’t put any figure forward for a pay rise but they still won’t get around the table. They’re only interested in resolving the delays. The way to resolve that the delays is to talk about funding.”

Commenting on the new strike dates last month, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s only through talks that this dispute will end. No health workers want to go out on strike again in the new year.

“But accusing NHS staff of making a conscious decision to inflict harm on the public by taking action this week was not the health secretary’s finest hour.”

She added: “Neither was it a particularly smart move for Steve Barclay to falsely accuse health unions of failing to deliver a national emergency cover plan. The secretary of state knew full well life and limb cover arrangements were being agreed locally by ambulance managers and unions.

“It’s time Steve Barclay stopped with the insults and fibs and called the unions in for proper talks about improving NHS pay.”

A DHSC spokesman said: “Today the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care hosted a roundtable with representatives from the NHS Staff Council, NHS Employers, Unison, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, the Royal College of Nursing, Unite, GMB and the Royal College of Midwives.”

During the meeting the Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the government would welcome their input into the independent pay review process for 2023/24 and what is affordable, and separately wanted to work together to attract, retain and motivate talented people and identify opportunities on efficiency and productivity, such as reducing agency spend.

The spokesman added: “He requested further discussions on ideas to make the health service work better and save staff time, that could unlock additional funding.

“He said that he is keen to continue a dialogue on this in the coming days as we all want to see a resolution and the more we can work together constructively to find common ground, the better.”



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