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Stress leave rates among ambulance staff ‘disturbing’, says union

One in eight staff at England’s ten ambulance trusts have taken time off due to stress or anxiety in the past year, figures from the GMB show
Paramedics

One in eight ambulance staff in England have taken time off work in the past year due to stress or anxiety, figures reveal.

Data obtained by the GMB union from all ten ambulance trusts in England revealed 81,669 sick days were taken due to these mental health issues during the 2016-17 financial year. A total of 2,468 paramedics and healthcare assistants, or one in eight of the workforce, took time off for this reason (see table below).

Stress epidemic

GMB national officer Kevin Brandstatter said: These disturbing figures once again prove what we already know: that our front-line ambulance workers are in the midst of a stress and anxiety epidemic.

They are consistently overworked, underpaid and expected to do incredibly difficult jobs, such as

One in eight ambulance staff in England have taken time off work in the past year due to stress or anxiety, figures reveal.


Ambulance staff are ‘consistently overworked, underpaid and expected to do incredibly difficult jobs’, says the GMB. Picture: iStock

Data obtained by the GMB union from all ten ambulance trusts in England revealed 81,669 sick days were taken due to these mental health issues during the 2016-17 financial year. A total of 2,468 paramedics and healthcare assistants, or one in eight of the workforce, took time off for this reason (see table below).

‘Stress epidemic’

GMB national officer Kevin Brandstatter said: ‘These disturbing figures once again prove what we already know: that our front-line ambulance workers are in the midst of 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. Workforce numbers haven’t kept pace with sharply rising demand.’

The union is calling for ambulance staff to be permitted to take retirement at 60, rather than 68, in line with other front-line emergency staff, such as police and firefighters.

‘The absences caused by staff shortages and overwork are already contributing to potential delays in attending incidents,’ said Mr Brandstatter. ‘If any patients lose their lives as a result, the blame falls fairly and squarely on an uncaring Tory government for not dealing with the stress and anxiety of our front-line emergency staff.’

Staff absences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The data show that at East Midlands Ambulance Service and North East Ambulance Service respectively, 23% and 22% of front-line staff took sick days due to stress.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘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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