Journal scan

Ambulance call dispatchers feel under stress and undervalued

Study finds local emergency operations centre workers need more support to reduce staff sickness and work-related fatigue
Journal Scan

Ambulance call dispatchers in the UK feel overburdened and need greater support to reduce staff sickness and work-related fatigue, a study concludes.

Emergency calls are managed by local emergency operations centres, where workers do not meet the public. Nine dispatchers working at one centre in southern England were recruited for the study and interviews of 40-70 minutes were conducted using qualitative research methods.

Stepping stone

The dispatch workers reported feeling overlooked and marginalised. They suggested their work was not valued as highly as other public service roles, and said that many dispatch workers regard their job as a stepping stone to frontline emergency care work.

The study concludes that greater positive interaction between these workers and other teams is needed to help dispatch staff build coping strategies to deal with stressful shifts.

Coxon A, Cropley M, Schofield P et al (2016) Youre never making just

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Ambulance call dispatchers in the UK feel overburdened and need greater support to reduce staff sickness and work-related fatigue, a study concludes.

Emergency calls are managed by local emergency operations centres, where workers do not meet the public. Nine dispatchers working at one centre in southern England were recruited for the study and interviews of 40-70 minutes were conducted using qualitative research methods.

‘Stepping stone’

The dispatch workers reported feeling overlooked and marginalised. They suggested their work was not valued as highly as other public service roles, and said that many dispatch workers regard their job as a stepping stone to frontline emergency care work.

The study concludes that greater positive interaction between these workers and other teams is needed to help dispatch staff build coping strategies to deal with stressful shifts.


Coxon A, Cropley M, Schofield P et al (2016) ‘You’re never making just one decision’: exploring the lived experiences of ambulance emergency operations centre personnel. Journal of Emergency Medicine. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2015-204841

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