Commenting on the CQC report that placed London Ambulance Service into special measures, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:
“This is a shocking indictment of the lack of funding that has gone to the ambulance service over the last five years. This is a particular problem in London where demand has soared in recent years.
“Sadly the CQC action was entirely predictable. UNISON has been warning for over a year that the chronic problem of underfunding, lack of staff and the knock-on effect placed on those who remain would lead to a crisis in London ambulance.
“Poor workforce planning, lack of investment in staff and the stress of the job has led to a recruitment and retention crisis which the government has failed to address.
“UNISON has tried to engage with LAS to address these issues to ensure the service is able to continue providing high quality care and support for Londoners.”
The CQC recognised staff were ‘overwhelmingly dedicated, hardworking and compassionate’ but noted that ‘some reported a culture of harassment and bullying’.
Dave added: “The job of paramedics has changed significantly in the past few years and their clinical skills and responsibilities have not been reflected in their pay.
“Instead of addressing the reasons why so many staff are leaving, London ambulance has gone out to recruit staff from as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
“Unless the government takes urgent action, staff will continue to work long shifts with no breaks to deal with the relentless nature of working in emergency services. This will mean more paramedics leaving London.”