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East of England Ambulance Service bosses ‘clarify’ confusion over rest breaks

PUBLISHED: 23:11 16 December 2018 | UPDATED: 20:32 17 December 2018

Police and ambulance crews were called after concerns for the welfare of a man at a house near the Kings Head Football Field in Wymondham at 4.44pm on Friday. Picture: Simon Finlay

Police and ambulance crews were called after concerns for the welfare of a man at a house near the Kings Head Football Field in Wymondham at 4.44pm on Friday. Picture: Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk

Ambulance bosses have moved to “clarify” a message sent to crews saying a surge in callers meant they should prepare for breaks to be interrupted and which seemed to suggest they should not take breaks to get meals on their way back to stations.

A message from East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) bosses, which was leaked on Twitter, stated that bosses had agreed that staff were “not to complete service journeys on their way back to stations for a meal break due to the increase in demand”.

They were also told that staff needed to be prepared to be interrupted on their breaks for what are known as C2 calls - emergency calls.

The message sparked a backlash on Twitter and prompted the ambulance service to issue a statement and apology.

Matt Broad, a former senior member of staff within the trust, tweeted: “The food pick up has caused the biggest flurry of emails and messages I have had from former colleagues and managers.”

A spokeswoman said: “We would like to clarify a message sent to frontline crews yesterday and to apologise for any confusion caused.

“We want to ensure that our crews get their rest breaks. However, we need to balance this against patient safety and there may be times when the last part of their break is used so that we can respond to some of our sickest patients.

“Similarly, with meal breaks we would like to clarify that crews are allowed to collect food on their way back to the station for their break. The welfare of our staff is of paramount importance.”

But replying to a tweet from EEAST Mr Broad said: “The message was clear? What are you clarifying? The message clearly said crews cannot undertake service journeys. So what your are saying is you have backtracked on the decision made, not clarifying.”

Ambulance clinicians typically work between eight and 12 hour shifts, but under the Working Time Directive, they are supposed to have rest breaks, typically between 15 and 45 minutes.

A Unison spokesman said: “UNISON is aware of this issue and have raised a number of questions with the employer.”

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