Overworked paramedics have called for more staff to be able to man ambulances instead of rapid response vehicles (RRVs).

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The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has introduced 15 extra ambulances but it was revealed earlier this week that many are sitting in the garages as they are reliant on paramedics working overtime.

However, with paramedics saying that 12-hour shifts often stretch into 14 hours, some are asking for further emphasis on staffing ambulances over RRVs.

One Norfolk paramedic, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that the recent increase in ambulances was “a big step in the right direction”, but that rotas needed to ensure the focus was on staffing these and not the RRVs.

They said: “The sceptical side of myself and others is that it was just a PR exercise last week.

“There was a lot of negativity that challenged the trust and they came out very positive.

“But if it is not thought through, if they are not prepared to make it long term, it is quite meaningless.

“Hopefully that is not the case; hopefully they will get around to sort the rotas.”

They added: “It is really positive but from March 4, across Norfolk there will be a reduction in hours from what we have at the moment, and more put in cars.

“They are only changing the rotas to reduce the hours in ambulances.”

A group of paramedics are currently running a campaign calling for the Department of Health to change its A19 target, ensuring that RRVs do not count in the 95pc target for arriving at the most critically-ill or injured patients within 19 minutes.

They say these targets “hide” delays in getting to patients as they are unable to transport the most seriously ill or injured patients to hospital

The paramedic said that there was too much commitment to the RRVs and said it was embarrassing for staff to sit and wait, not knowing how long it would be until ambulance back-up arrives.

“We are an ambulance service, not a car service,” they said.

The paramedics’ campaign to change the national A19 target has the support of Norwich South MP Simon Wright and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

Mr Wright said: “I’m very concerned by the increasing number of reports I have been hearing informally, from paramedics and from patients, of when a wrong vehicle appeared to be sent out on a call.

“Particularly if on occasion where a vehicle has been sent out as much to meet a target as to ensure the person on the other end is getting the service required.”

Mr Lamb said he had raised this issue with Earl Howe, who is responsible for this area in the Department for Health.

A spokesman for the trust said that the overtime expense was factored in to the budget, but that the recruitment drive of 114 emergency care assistants and 25 paramedics was helping to address this.

They added that the extra ambulances were there to complement and boost the rota redesign.

They also said interim chief executive Andrew Morgan had been out during the week listening to staff and patients.

Mr Morgan said: “I’m really pleased that staff feel that the extra ambulances are a step in the right direction. We knew it might be difficult to crew the vehicles with staff on overtime as I appreciate they’re already working hard. But rather than wait we wanted to get the vehicles onto their stations ready for operation so we can get them staffed as fully and quickly as possible.

“We are still hopeful we can fill more shifts over the coming weeks and are looking at every opportunity to do so.”

The campaign website is www.changeA19.org

7 comments

  • The recent increase in the number of ambulances is a farce! It is completely inappropriate to expect these vehicles to be crewed on overtime and on frequent occasions by 2 emergency care assistants who are under qualified and inexperienced. It falls far short of providing the service the public deserve.

    Report this comment

    emz1

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

  • Where's Steven Speilberg when you need him? one cock up after another, it was only a matter of months ago the Ambulance "Service" was going to cut the number of front line ambulances now strangely 15 new ambulances have turned up from god know where without any crews to drive them.. if it wasn't so serious it would be laughable.. from start to finish laughable..

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

  • LOL, I guess people assumed the new ambulances came with crew and no one thought to ask.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

  • You're not much of any sort of service at the moment actually.

    Report this comment

    fester1902

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • 'We'll cut the deficit, not the NHS' quipped the Cameleon to get elected as PM. No one noticed he had his fingers crossed behind his back when he said it. Too late now! You were an ambulance services, then along came the tories and their lackeys, cutting, cutting, cutting, and now look what's happened!

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

  • You can't even gurantee that you will recieve an RRV !!! a member of my family waited over 3 hours last year and all we got was an apology.for their blatent cock up..

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

  • Money should never be an issue with the NHS or Hospital Trusts.. .. There should be enough money to meet the needs of the local people... Failure to meet those needs is not and option... Where health is concerned...Basic logic and commonsense ... Enough money is paid into the system by people paying their dues...over many years .. If the government cannot ensure the system works correctly.. Then let someone else do it that can.. .. The government has ruined enough things in the uk and the allowed tax avoidance from high greed earners if stopped .. would provide more money for the NHS .. But just ain't gonna happen is it.. After 25 years of reporting that fact... The rich still enjoy the jolly life of paying less tax... Shameful ongoing farce... Meanwhile Cameron sort it all out now...

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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