‘We’re sleepwalking into a disastrous situation’ - Ambulance staff launch petition for help from health secretary

PUBLISHED: 18:32 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:32 24 September 2018

Stock photo of an ambulance. Picture: Archant Library.

Stock photo of an ambulance. Picture: Archant Library.

Frontline staff at the region’s ambulance trust have launched a public petition in what they say is a bid to influence bosses.

The petition, which was set up on Friday and had more than 500 signatures as of Monday, said: “This petition has been written by frontline staff, in order to influence decisions that are being made by the trust board, which are harmful to our health and wellbeing and our ability to remain in the workplace - these decisions are negatively impacting on our mental health and stress.”

The concerns revolve around changes to rotas

The petition said: “We believe the consultation process [over the changes] has been a sham and has not been genuine.”

It added: “We still feel powerless and voiceless and we have had enough. In order to be heard, not by the trust board, as they have made it clear they do not want to hear what we have to say, we’re now writing this as a petition to the Secretary of State of Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, and Stephen Barclay, Minister for Health and Social Care - both MPs within the East of England Ambulance service region.

“We, the frontline staff do not have confidence in the current leadership to get us through this winter.

“We’re sleepwalking into a disastrous situation, where the low morale and lack of consideration of staff wellbeing is adding to the staffing crisis in our trust, we have never seen so many experienced staff voting with their feet because the leadership refuses to support them. In quarter one, we lost more staff than we recruited (ie actual starters in quarter one), and in quarter two, we have seen a large spike in staff voting with their feet. This is unsustainable.”

One of the members of staff behind the petition said: “We raised this petition to try and reach the decision makers outside our service, to let them know that things are very, very wrong in this service and that the culture of fear and repression is very much flourishing. We need outside help and we need that now.

“In all the years I’ve worked in the service, I have never known this sort of behaviour from the trust, or so many of my colleagues to be looking for a way to leave. The number of signatures that have been collected in just a few days, shows the strength of feeling from staff.

A spokesman for East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) said: “Final decisions have not been made and staff can still contribute to the outcome of the building better rotas project. Staff are being listened to throughout – for instance, two core principles which the rota project are built on have been amended based on what staff have been saying, and feedback is used in the development of a new relief policy. Our engagement started early in 2018, including both face-face and online, and more than 150 staff are involved in the working parties which help shape the rotas our patient-facing teams will vote on.

“Changes are unpopular with a number of our people but they’re a contractual requirement.”

They added: “Staff have a range of options to raise their concerns, including the newly-agreed joint disputes resolution procedure, and we continue to work closely with staff and Unison to deliver the building better rotas project.”

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