Exclusive: Huge rise in ambulance service mental health issues in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire revealed

An ambulance leaves Spalding ambulance station. Credit: ITV

The number of ambulance service workers in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire taking time off due to mental health problems has risen by more than 40 per cent in the last three years.

Figures obtained as part of an ITV investigation have shed further light on the impact of psychological issues on emergency service staff in the region.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust and East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) collectively recorded 617 staff absences due to mental health problems last year - up from 433 in 2014/15. EMAS saw such absences rise by almost 80 per cent during that period.

As a result the services lost more than 21,000 working days because staff were struggling with issues like post traumatic stress disorder and depression - up from more than 14,000 in 2014/15.

One EMAS paramedic has told Calendar how - after being attacked while trying to treat the victim of an assault six years ago - spent years battling anxiety.

Scott Scott, who is based in Spalding, explained that he initially felt unable open up but has since sought support.

It stole my confidence but I covered it up...

Scott Scoot, paramedic

The issue is not just impacting frontline staff either. Call handlers at EMAS have told Calendar of the abuse they can encounter and the traumatic calls they take.

The organisation has been taking a proactive approach to mental health over the last three years - employing a dedicated chaplain, signing up to the Mind charity's Blue Light support project and launching a peer support service.

To me it's very important to say there's nothing wrong with saying you're struggling. Everybody needs a helping hand at some stage. We need to keep it at the fore of our minds. There's huge reasons why people are going off.

The Rev Kevin Charles, chaplain at East Midlands Ambulance Service

Number of staff members reported absent through mental health issues 2016/17 (2014/15):

  • East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust - 377 (210)

  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust - 240 (223)