More Meal Break Madness

They’re at it again in Yorkshire.

Here we go again. More meal break madness and once again it’s the (Yorkshire Ambulance Service) in the spotlight.

The headlines, of course, are emotive and hysterical.

999 crew sacked in meal break rowBBC

Two ambulance paramedics in North Yorkshire have been sacked because they did not respond to a 999 call while on a meal break, the BBC has learned.

Appeal bid by paramedics sacked for not answering emergency callThe Northern Echo

The row over ambulance service meal breaks re-erupted last night after it emerged that two paramedics were sacked because they did not respond to a 999 call. The Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) said yesterday that the paramedics were not on a meal break at the time, but this was refuted by the GMB union.

I confess that I know nothing more about this case than what has been reported, however, I can’t believe that two long serving ambulance staff suddenly take it into their heads to refuse to response to an emergency. The whole fiasco does not appear to be as clear cut as the BBC report would have us believe. According to the GMB rep “They said they could not respond because one of the men felt sick.

My guess is this was a minor situation that got completely out of hand due to the overzealousness of some jumped-up local manager. He probably never bothered with a proper investigation but sacked the staff on the spot. Let’s not forget this is the service with the cowboy management, run by Simon Worthington, that issued termination notices to 400 staff 5 days before Christmas (see here) and then rescinded them 3 weeks later (see here).

Says everything you need to know about management competency in Yorkshire.


4 Responses to More Meal Break Madness

  1. nicenurse says:

    I’ve said it elsewhere, but…. these are real emergencies for each and every one of these patients and their families so there is of course a lot of emotion attached to them. TBut med

  2. nicenurse says:


    The reply should read;

    I’ve said it elsewher, but…, these are real emergencies for each and every one of these patients and their families, they are (obviously!!) unplanned and there is a lot of emotion attached to them. But being called by members of the public to medical emergencies should not actually be a surprise to an ambulance service, its what we do!! There should therefore be adequate provision to ensure crews get a break, where we can refresh, enhancing our ability to respond to calls with a clear mind. It is all very well agreeing that crews will attend all calls regardless of whether they are eating or not, but we know this system (where in place) is abused, with no regard at all being paid to the welfare needs of staff.


  3. Sean says:

    Bizarre!! In all over the jobs I have ever had, breaks are a LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE REQUIREMENT. Except, it seems, in the Ambulance Service. In an eight hour a day civvy job, you can expect – AT LEAST – 30 mins at dinner time and probably another 15 mid morning and afternoon.

    Whereas, during a 12 hour shift for the ambulance service, your “break window” may open at 11am and close at 3pm. You may be put on break at 11am, have your 45 mins and then work solidly for another 7.25 hours without stoppage or let up. You may miss your window completely, having then worked 8 hours solidly without stoppage or let up and then get your 45 mins.

    Local to where I work, fire crews work 11 or 13 hour shifts with a 3 HOUR BREAK!!! WHAT THE F…….? And may never turn a wheel all shift.

    Don’t get me wrong, I see the need for a suitable response to a suitable emergency. AND to provide cover where there is a break ongoing. But not at the expense of staff welfare and wellbeing. And it is a wholly unacceptable expectation that we should be available to respond to EVERYTHING regardless of what, where, how, etc. Yes, that’s our job and what we’re paid to do. What we’re NOT paid to do is run ourselves into the ground or burn ourselves out for anyone.

    Public, Government or Management – if that’s what you want from us, you need to seriously look at YOUR duty of care towards US – another LEGAL REQUIREMENT – and make sure you have suitable systems in place to cope with the fallout.

    What narks me is that seemingly ALL AS’s seem content to whimper under the glare of the media spotlight and cave at the first sign of public indignation and/or condemnation. Ambulance Services and their staff are abused by the public and government alike – how is it we’re still classed as an Essential Service and not an Emergency Service? – and most alarmingly by their own spineless management.

    Why can’t AS public relations departments handle the whole situation a bit better and defend the crews involved?

    RANT over…

  4. James says:

    Dear NFI

    As you may know already I have an interest in blogs about work.

    I started to look at such blogs two years, but for reasons I won’t bore you with, prevented me from developing the project beyond a questionnaire exercise.

    I am now, finally, at a stage where I can spend enough time researching a phenomenon I find very interesting and expect others to do so when I get around to telling them!

    So, why I am telling you this?

    Well, I’m looking for some input into a research project that investigates work-related blogs – something that hardly anyone has written about before.

    I have no intention of ‘outing’, or indicating in any way, any blogger.

    The paper is not about sensationalising blogs.

    It’s more to do with exploring the significance of a wider emerging trend of ‘ordinary’ people exploiting the web for any number of reasons.

    At this stage I would like to first of all request your permission to use excerpts from your blog for my paper.

    If you do allow me to do this I promise to consult with you on what I intend to use and how I intend to use it.

    Any other feedback or direction from you would be welcomed.

    To be more specific, and based on what several sources have said out such blogs in the past (newspapers, trade journals and academics), I’m looking for blog entries that cover the following themes:

    1) Postings that would be viewed by your employer, or any other employer, as some sort of nuisance to them.

    2) Postings that you believe could lead to disciplinary action if your employer knew about what you were doing (especially if you post anonymously).

    3) Postings that offer an ‘honest’ review of how you are expected to work (e.g. outlining ridiculous practices or expectations from management, etc.).

    4) Postings that could be viewed as being news from the workplace or ‘spilling the beans’ on a certain work-related matter that you feel should be in the public domain.

    5) Postings that you feel could shape public opinion about what you do or how your job has an impact on others, even if your blog is read by a small number of people.

    6) Postings that are about you, whether you intended at the onset to do it or not, revealing aspects of your job that others could learn from, i.e. tricks of the trade or tacit knowledge.

    7) Postings that reflect the possibility of loneliness at work, i.e. writing in a manner that indicates you wish you had more support or chance to discuss matters with others at work.

    8) Postings that are clearly about trying to get one over on management, i.e. resistance.

    Some of these requests may appear similar or vague and it’s unlikely that you will be able to provide examples of all of the above, but any examples of any category will be appreciated.

    Like I said I before, posting can (and will be) changed in a manner that protects your or anyone else’s identity.

    I should also say while I’m at it that I am looking for bloggers to make a contribution to another project that I intend to get started on very soon.

    It would be an edited book (many contributors) that would a) cover research on work-related blogs, b) allow bloggers to tell their story of what blogging about work has done for them.

    For bloggers this could mean anything and I mean anything. For example, if blogging has won you an audience and adulation then write about that. If blogging has helped you meet people who have helped you in some way that would be excellent too. If blogging just ended up being a burden that has brought no advantages then write about that.

    Again, I’m not sure how I want this to go and would appreciate any ideas from you. For example, you could write this all yourself or I could interview you and take it from there.

    Anyway, these are my ideas and I’d really appreciated any input from yourself.

    Please free to contact me about this.

    We can speak on the telephone if this would help.

    In total confidence and sincerity.

    James Richards
    Lecturer in HRM
    Heriot-Watt University
    Edinburgh, UK.

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