GMB LAS Branch Secretary has written to Matt Hancock to ask him to help our members who are at breaking point. The sustained pressure that is being putting on our members and colleagues cannot continue, and is showing little evidence of easing up. We have tried to engage with LAS management, but we are getting little response, so are now going to government.
Please see below for the email…
Dear Rt Hon Matt Hancock
Happy new year to you.
My name is Clive Tombs, I am an Emergency Medical Technician 4 for the London Ambulance Service, and I am also the GMB union Branch secretary.
I’m emailing you to ask for your help and support.
Since the start of this pandemic, our members in all departments have being working tirelessly in difficult situations, some say on the front line, I would, however, say we predominantly work behind the line in uncontrolled and non covid secure environments. Working with inadequate PPE which has been well documented. Unfortunately, we have lost colleagues and are seeing more of our colleagues being hospitalised with Covid.
I have also noted that we are recording the highest levels of covid illness since the start of the pandemic reports available within the Trust, which is putting increased pressure not only on our members, but also all staff.
Our control staff are increasingly holding more calls than ever, our ambulances are queuing outside hospitals with patients being kept on the back of ambulances because the hospitals are full and cannot admit any more patients I have being informed one patient was given a hospital bed 11 hours after the ambulance arrived at hospital. Even our sickest patient are unable to get a hospital bed in some circumstances.
Whilst waiting for beds, patients are lying on the ambulance trolley for prolonged times. These trolley beds are not designed for patients to kept on them for an extended periods and become uncomfortable for patients who already do not feel well.
Whilst the ambulances do have small windows that can be opened to allow fresh into them, this comes at a cost of the patient getting cold especially throughout this winter period. Our oxygen supply along with some hospitals is in low, putting patients at further risk. Also, I hope you appreciate ambulances don’t have all the facilities of a hospital like toilets, wash basins etc.
Staff are also not receiving any rest breaks or down time from this relentless pressure. They are also finishing their shifts hours later than planned, this is happening more and more frequently and wearing our members down both physically and mentally.
Members and staff alike are at their bitter end and at breaking point, in my 30 year plus with the LAS I have never witnessed and received reports of so many staff crying in mess rooms, control rooms and at corporate level. Staff are doing their very best to cope, but the true reality is they are not.
Please be under no doubt that staff have and continue to do their very best in very difficult circumstances for our patients, but I fear a lot of staff are at their breaking point
My cry for help….
Please can you, as the Government, support us by releasing a nationwide media campaign on the importance of only call 999 or 111 in extreme emergencies? Please inform the public to make their own way to hospital where possible and seek out other alternatives like GPs, District nurses, or their own care packages.
Would it be possible to reopen the Nightingale Hospital as an overflow department or utilise the private hospitals that might have spare wards or beds or even field hospitals?
We also need extra resources to cope with the sustained pressure of demand we have been facing. Most importantly we need the vaccine to be rolled out to all staff as soon as possible, I think the best way of doing this would be with the Oxford vaccine which doesn’t need to be stored at such low temperatures. The trust could carry out the vaccination of staff, like we did with the flu jab, we managed to get 80% plus staff vaccinated against the flu in a relatively short period. I truly believe this would help protect our member and staff from this deadly virus and, in turn, would hopefully reduce the high sickness levels and hopefully aid staff to return to work.
This will possibly require extra funding which I’m sure you would say would a pragmatic approach and best use of public money so staff can continue to provide the excellent care that we all aspire to.
Look forward to hearing from you my details are below please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
GMB LAS Union Branch Secretary
Posted: 4th January 2021