Diagnosis? N.F.I.

Death by Lunch

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Bugger off – I’m on my meal break.


London Ambulance Service is in the news again – for all the wrong reasons:

Man dies as ambulance crews take a breakEvening Standard
999 team lunch as man diesThe Sun

The problem with ‘compulsory’ meal breaks is causing chaos in London. Of course the popular press think we’re just a bunch of lazy sods who don’t care and are inciting their readers to outrage.

“the nut that instigated the lunch break thing and those that decided to enforce it should be sued Ala Americana for all they are worth by the guys family”
“The persons responsible for not opting out
[i.e. the crews] should be made liable”
“If the people who were on their break knew there was an emergency and then DID NOT come out, then in my mind they
[the crews] are lower than the gutter.”
“Obviously these people are worked very hard but I think even they would appreciate that saving a mans life would be more important than a tea break”

I’m not quite sure what arrangements have been made in London but elsewhere the meal-break fiasco is a result of government interference in the NHS – aka Agenda for Change.

Our hours were reduced from 40 hrs per week to 37 1/2 under AfC – effectively a 1/2 hour break per 8 hour shift. Obviously we need 24 hour per day cover so what to do about this ‘missing’ half an hour? In my county we said “let’s keep the status quo”. We’ll work 40 hours per week (i.e. no break) but accrue an extra day off (8 hour shift) after every 16 shifts. This is how it always worked under the old Whitley Council rules – and it worked well, very well. There was never a problem. Management in their wisdom said “No” and insisted we had a 1/2 hour break. Now I think anyone would agree that if you’re on a break then you’re on a break – which means if you want to ‘pop to the shops’, ‘nip over to Tesco’, etc then you should be able to do so – we’re not sitting around on the station ‘kicking our heels’ as The Sun suggests. As such, there’s little point in Control calling us at the station – we’re not there.

We told management it would cause havoc – and it has. So, when it all goes wrong the press put the blame on ‘uncaring’ crews.

Now management want to stop our breaks but only pay us if we get interrupted. Essentially meaning we’re still on duty but on a ‘retained’ basis with no possibility of going off station. We’ve told them to bugger off – either pay us to stay on duty or ‘pay’ us by way of an accumulated lieu day (Whitley) or accept that we’re off duty. It’s not that we don’t care it just that management want meal breaks covered but don’t want to pay.

I trained long and hard to do this job and it’s a career I love but, when all’s said and done, I’m an employee, I expect to be paid for when I’m on duty

If I wanted to do it for free I’d join the Johners.

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