London Package 2021 – Improving Working Lives

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At our branch meeting today (24 March 2021) we discussed and agreed to send the following letter to the London Ambulance Service CEO. It was also discussed at our AGM.

Dear Garrett,

In 2014 our late great friend, Branch Secretary of LAS UNISON – Eric Roberts, wrote to the London Ambulance Service CEO at the time and outlined 6 demands to the service on behalf of our members calling it a London Package.
Whilst we have achieved much of these demands, many issues still remain for our members working in the London Ambulance Service and the difficulties we have faced in the last year have compounded some of the organisational problems that affect our day to day working life.
The challenges faced by staff in the LAS this past 12 months have been devastating at times and the changes we have faced to maintain our service have been severe and often have not been in our best interests. We have faced huge changes in working practices to cope with the demand Covid has placed on the NHS and we have faced extreme changes in society with devastating illness and loss to our families. In particular we remember those colleagues we have lost.

As always in times of crisis it is the workforce that drives us through and adapts to everything thrown at us. We understand the effects of the Covid pandemic are not yet over but now is the time to deal with some important issues and push forward with making our working lives better. Looking ahead we have to now recognise the impact high workload has in particular to our clinical, EOC and IUC staff and that the staffing levels we work to are not sustainable nor safe for the long term health of our staff and the safety of our patients. Additionally the way we support our newest clinical staff coming into the service and their working arrangements are not sufficient or fair.
We recognise the changes LAS management aim to make to our estates are wide ranging and long term and we are hopeful the strategy will help to improve our working lives however this must be pursued with caution, in partnership with the Trade Unions and with the flexibility to recognise failings and adapt our plans.

To aim for a more sustainable and supportive workforce we must ensure all staff have fair opportunities to progress their careers in the LAS. The current situation is also not sufficient, whilst there have been more progression opportunities made available through apprenticeship programs there are still clear shortfalls in some career pathways and the recruitment of international staff has proved to have additional difficulties from when this first began. The future sustainability of this method is uncertain. And to reiterate, some of our arrangements for new staff coming into the LAS, often at the earliest stage in their professional careers, are not fair or supportive.

We have heard the aims and commitments made by the LAS management during the last year that recognise these issues and the commitments made to improve the working lives for our staff. LAS
UNISON now make the following calls to the management and that they be addressed in partnership with LAS UNISON:

• A safe clinical and call handling staffing level that is beyond the current 100% maximum capacity model, that is safe for the demands of our patients and safe for the welfare of our staff.
• A change in the way the LAS roster our clinical staff so as to maintain stable crewmates on a stable roster pattern for all those that want it, provide clearer flexible working arrangements and to eliminate the need for the relief working arrangements that is particularly unsupportive of our newest staff.
• Provide a single demand profile for all fixed rosters so as to eliminate the unfair distribution of night work and that will be much better suited to changes in estate arrangements and potentially sustainable for longer periods. This will continue to give staff the ability to create rosters that suit their work group through the current framework.
• Connect the break in the career pathway from AAP to EAC by providing a bridging course and recruiting from the AAP staff group for the EAC role in the first instance.
• A firm commitment to maintaining the EAC role and expanding the establishment to benefit the career progression for our members and improve our overall operational clinical skill level for
the benefit of our patients.
• A recruitment and staffing strategy that primarily relies on training our own clinicians up to paramedic and that better reflects the communities we serve in London. In addition we seek a
commitment that the training and development of our own staff remains primarily provided in house, organised and provided by our own staff.
• Expand on the current staff welfare and support provision to better accommodate the rapid change in the way we work and the particular issues we experience living and working in London
such as the huge increase in home working and the changes in London transport that affect the cost of and our ability to travel such as ULEZ zone changes and public transport costs and
restrictions.

We have continued to work in partnership for many years during which time we have seen the London Ambulance Service move through continual change both organisationally and in how we provide our service. By addressing the issues we have outlined through our partnership structure we will continue to improve the London Ambulance Service, the lives of our members and the care we
provide to the patients of London. This year our members have gone above and beyond to maintain our service through some of the toughest challenges we have ever faced. We believe now is the
time to push forward in how we look after our staff and focus on fairer and more supportive measures and continue building a world class ambulance service for a world class city.

Eddie Brand
LAS UNISON Branch Secretary

Tim Stephens
LAS UNISON Branch Chairperson

On behalf of LAS UNISON

 

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