Rota changes ‘puts lives at risk’

Fast Response vehicle outside Worksop Ambulance Station (w121023-11)
Fast Response vehicle outside Worksop Ambulance Station (w121023-11)

ROTA changes at ambulance stations in Bassetlaw could put people’s lives at risk.

That is the message coming loud and clear from ambulance workers this week after they were told their hours could change.

East Midlands Ambulance Service wants to reduce the ambulance night shifts from 12 hours to eight hours at Worksop and Retford ambulance stations, from Sunday to Thursday.

This would leave a gap in cover from 2am until 7am when only a fast response car would be on duty.

“We couldn’t believe it when we were told about these rota changes,” said one EMAS worker, who wants to remain anonymous.

“The staff went mad. They immediately saw that more pressure would be put on the service, which is already struggling.”

“It will put patients lives at risk without a doubt.”

Currently there are two ambulances at Worksop, two at Retford and a fast response car at each.

EMAS wants to implement the new rotas in April 2013, said the paramedic, regardless of whether the ambulance stations shut.

The changes were announced just two days after EMAS chiefs promised the Worksop public at a meeting that there would be no reduction in ambulance cover as a result of their Being The Best consultation.

EMAS assistant director of operations Richard Henderson told the meeting: “In fact it is our aim to increase the level and types of cover.”

The paramedic said: “They will say they are not reducing the four-wheeled resources. But they are reducing the double crewed ambulance which is a vehicle to transport a patient to hospital.”

“Forty per cent of our patients we leave at home. Those other 60 per cent need to go to hospital.”

“Services are reduced at night anyway so more often than not we have to take people to A and E.”

“The fast response car will be left on jobs waiting for ambulance crews to come back from the hospital.”

It was also claimed that fast response paramedics are already being forced to wait too long with patients because of ambulances not being available.

The paramedic told us about a recent incident when a paramedic was performing CPR on a heart attack patient for 45 minutes before an ambulance crew arrived.

“All too often when they call for back-up the radio response is ‘kilo-zero’ which means no resource available,” they said.

“Stroke patients, for example, have a four-hour window to get life-saving treatment at the nearest stroke unit at Doncaster hospital.”

“That’s four hours from experiencing the symptom, not four hours from making the 999 call. And if they live in some far flung corner of Bassetlaw, then the chances of an ambulance being able to deliver on that target are getting slimmer.”

“As paramedics we are also trained to understand the ‘vital golden hour’ - the first hour during which trauma patients must need to get the right treatment to have a good chance of survival. It doesn’t exist any more.”

An EMAS spokesman said the proposal to change shift patterns was to ensure there were enough staff on duty when they were needed.

“At present we have more staff allocated during the night and not enough during the day, we are consulting with our staff on changes to shift rotas as part of the consultation process,” he said.