I am writing to you on behalf of London Ambulance UNISON, but also making a personal plea for our Service to act, take the initiative, and force through radical changes to retain and reward staff. We both know that needs to happen.
The very fact of UNISON writing to you directly reflects the seriousness of the situation.
A major issue, as you are fully aware, is that the LAS is being squeezed by neighbouring Services whose offer of Band 6 for the Paramedic post is seriously stripping us of valuable staff whom we have spent time and large amounts of money in training. The trickle of staff leaving that we saw nine months or so ago has developed into a tidal wave. A tidal wave that, if not stopped, will take our Service down.
If this trend continues, the reduction of front line staff – currently we have around 300 fewer staff available over the Christmas and New Year period – will be exacerbated to the point where none of our targets can be met, and lives will be lost. Of course, it is not just ‘front line’ staff that are leaving. The pressure on all staff within this period is unacceptable. It is not an exaggeration to say that tension and anxiety can be felt throughout the Service. Staff know that something needs to be done. They do not want to work in this atmosphere of crisis, compounded by good people giving up on the Service.
I do not believe that we are a failing Service, but I do think that we are a falling Service. Falling from one crisis to the next. Falling unrelentingly from the position that we, as the Capital City’s Ambulance Service, should be. And, more worryingly, falling into the inevitable spiral that will, in a short time, turn falling into failing.
It has to change for staff. It has to change now.
I know that you and Jason (and others) realize this, and you are having difficult discussions with Commissioners, NHS London, TDA and other outside agencies. LAS UNISON is not criticising your efforts, but we are seriously, and without any ambiguity, warning of failure.
UNISON puts the following six demands to you directly that we believe need to be addressed, agreed, signed off and the outcome put together as a unique ‘London’ package for all staff working for the London Ambulance Service.
This will make a huge difference and impact on staff.
Whatever else you have heard, believe me when I say that the Banding issue is key to all of this and needs to be urgently resolved. Without that there can be no recovery, no fresh start, no stopping the tidal wave.
We (LAS) have been congratulated on our Cardiac survival rates within London. The report on The Pulse had the following quote from our own Medical Director:
Medical Director Fionna Moore said: “These figures show what an excellent job staff are doing resuscitating and stabilising patients and giving high quality CPR.”
Do we really want to lose the dedication and skills of these staff?
UNISON calls for:
- All Paramedics at Band 6.
- A re-think of the Senior Paramedic role.
- Technicians’ future to be secured.
- Make it easier, and affordable, for our own staff to study to become Paramedics.
- Make it financially attractive for all staff to stay with LAS.
- Create a unique London Package for all our staff that recognises the stresses and strains of working in London.
Outside of this we should review all Bandings as a result of ‘Market forces’. London is different. London is unique.
We believe that this has to happen, and happen quickly.
UNISON is prepared to continue working in partnership to save the Service from the greatest risk it has faced for twenty years. We stand ready to work together with the Service and important NHS bodies such as the TDA and NHS England to resolve these problems. However, if this opportunity is missed our close working relationship may be one of the casualties.’
Ann, together we can change the LAS. Our starting point is the London Package.
Staff Side Secretary