'Frustrated' ambulance staff in the South West have called on their boss to quit.
Members of the GMB union who work for South Western Ambulance service (SWASFT) have issued an open letter calling for the Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, to resign over pressures on the service.
The letter is sent by ambulance workers covering Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath, North and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
It's written in the form of an apology to families, friends and the community.
In it they say, "we're sorry for not getting to you or your loved ones quick enough because there are just not enough of us or we are called out to answer non-emergency calls."
Addressing staff's families it adds, "we're sorry kids that we couldn't tuck you in and read you a story at bedtime."
It's all part of a dispute over changes to rotas and concern from members about having to work for over their normal 12-hour shifts.
The GMB union isn't formally recognised by SWASFT, but represents around 40% of the trust's staff.
Their main union, Unison, has raised their own concerns but hasn't called for the resignation of boss Ken Wenman.
The letter reads:
An apology from Ambulance staff to our families, friends and the community:
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when you see an ambulance attending an incident what it might be like to work for the South Western Ambulance service?
Although we love what we do, behind the professional facade we portray to the public we are struggling to maintain a crumbling service deliberately being underfunded by the Government and made worse when those over pressured resources and stressed staff are then badly managed locally.
If you're unfortunate enough to have to call us, please remember that although we will potentially often be the Deliverer of the First High Quality Care you receive in an accident or illness, we are not only not classified as an Emergency Service by the government but not appreciated or cared for by our employer.
We, as ambulance professionals, are trying to change that. Our Union, GMB, are trying to change that, but our employer and our Chief Executive are ignoring both our complaints and calls for change, so in order to explain to our families, friends and the public and even our employer SWAST we send out our heartfelt apologies:
To the Public:
We're sorry for not getting to you or your loved ones quick enough because there are just not enough of us or we are called out to answer non-emergency calls.
We're sorry for the patient and family members that have been left on the floor for hours as a consequence of not getting to you on time.
We're sorry when you remain in the ambulance or in the hospital corridor for hours when we are stacked at A&E's because we can't complete our hand over.
We're sorry that our employer is so poor in managing their resources that they are potentially putting your family at risk.
We're sorry you sometimes feel the need to verbally abuse or physically threaten us while we treat your family and friends.
We're sorry it appears that SWAST deployments and performance targets are more important than patient care.
We're sorry if we arrive at your emergency at the end of a 12 hour shift and possible overrun if we are so tired we potentially fear making a wrong clinical decision.
To our Family and Friends:
We're sorry for not being able to be there when you as family and friends need us.
We're sorry for missing yet another family occasion.
We're sorry we are refused annual leave when we want it meaning no family holiday once again.
We're sorry yet another overrun has meant we are late home again. We're sorry kids that we couldn't tuck you in and read you a story at bedtime.
We're sorry for being so tired or stressed when we do finally get home.
We're sorry for the occasions you'll see us angry, frustrated, unhappy and sad.
We're sorry when we witness yet another colleague's relationship fail.
We're sorry for feeling unsupported by you, our employer.
We're sorry when we are stretched ever more thinly across a greater area of deployment that we don't hit your targets for reaching critically ill patients in time.
We're sorry for being sick in an environment and workplace that doesn't allow it.
We're sorry for what must be our annoying constant requests for annual leave and you having to take the time to respond and refuse them. We're sorry for our claims of PTSD.
We're sorry for appearing ungrateful that your recent rota review has in fact destroyed our work life balance even more beyond acceptable limits.
We're sorry for the inconvenience when injuries at work happen.
We're sorry if we appear concerned that we will not reach retirement age as a result of physical or psychological injury.
We're sorry for not agreeing with the Chief Executive, and his teams 'my way or the highway' attitude towards us as staff.
And finally in closing:
We're sorry for saying sorry, time and time again to all of you because nothing ever changes.
We're sorry for having to write this.
We're sorry for asking, but it's time for everyone to support our call for the Chief Executive to stand down.
Concerned SWAST Ambulance Employees