The GMB is warning that a record number of paramedics quitting work could trigger a crisis in the ambulance service. The general union is claiming that unfilled vacancies and staff shortages means that existing staff have to shoulder more responsibility and crews responding to 999 calls are staffed inadequately.
The number of paramedics and other ambulance staff quitting the NHS has nearly doubled in four years – and thousands more plan to leave according to a survey conducted by the GMB.
More than 3,000 paramedics were surveyed by GMB, UNISON, and Unite, three unions who together represent over 20,000 ambulance staff. The survey found that inadequate pay and poor working conditions are to blame for low morale among paramedics, facts that, the union claim, could trigger a crisis in the NHS unless the government acts, especially as one in every ten paramedic jobs currently remains vacant.
“The vacancy rate across the ambulance service is reaching dangerous levels,” Rehana Azam, GMB acting national secretary commented. “This combined with staff shortages means existing staff have to shoulder more responsibility and crews responding to 999 calls are staffed inadequately.“
In evidence submitted to the NHS Pay Review Body, the unions report that more than 1,000 paramedics left the ambulance service last year (April 2014 to March 2015) compared with just 566 between 2010 and 2011. Almost three quarters (76 percent) of remaining staff are also considering leaving, and more than nine in every ten (94 percent) believe their pay does not adequately reflect their responsibilities, or the unsociable hours that they often have to work.
A paramedic’s starting salary is £21,692 annually and they receive a full wage of £28,180 after seven years.