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  1. ITV Report

Union claims ambulance staff at 'breaking point'

Frontline ambulance staff are at 'breaking point' according to UNISON. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A survey of frontline ambulance in our region has revealed the increasing pressure they face - with some working up to 19-hour shifts.

UNISON surveyed more than 900 frontline staff at the East of England Ambulance Service.

It highlighted the impact on their mental health and some staff said they regularly working 15-hour shifts.

UNISON, which has also commissioned a film to highlight the issue, wrote to the trust's chief executive last year - calling for specific measures to reduce enforced overtime, which they say had not been honoured.

The East of England Ambulance Service says it needs more funding and more staff. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"Staff have spoken to us about the impact of the removal of supportive measures in October. They say this has made things much worse. Morale is rock bottom, sickness relating to mental health - the number one reason for sickness - reached a record high in December. Our members are at breaking point and the trust needs to step up and start doing the right thing by their staff."

– Fraer Stevenson, UNISON Branch Secretary

But the trust has insisted that it has "excellent" support facilities available to staff - and that it considers their wellbeing to be "of paramount importance".

It accepts that working late is on of the biggest issues and says it has tried to work with UNISON to find solutions which have not "achieved the desired outcomes".

"Ultimately we know both the underlying issue and the solution sits in having an increased level of ambulances and staffing and this comes with more funding. "We know that this is a national issue across the ambulance sector and we are pleased that our regulators have delivered a review of our capacity and made recommendations for increased resourcing. We will now work with commissioners to translate those recommendations into more staff to relieve the pressure on our workforce and provide the best care to patients.

“In the meantime we have in place staff groups with whom we are working closely to find better ways that balance getting people home on time more often, with the safety of patients. They recognise how difficult this is to balance. We will continue to work with staff and UNISON to explore a sustainable solution that ensures we address this issue and keeps our patients safe.”

– Kevin Brown, director of service delivery at EEAST