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7 January, 2007

Dial 999 and get NHS 24

Seems that the Scottish Ambulance Service have decided to play NHS Redirect, or NHS 24 as it’s called in Scotland, at their own game.

Non-urgent 999 calls are to be passed to NHS 24 for telephone triage rather than having an ambulance sent out. No doubt NHS 24 will redirect them back again.

Already the popular press are up in arms.

PATIENTS’ lives could be put at risk under plans to divert some 999 calls to the NHS 24 helplineThe Scotsman

Opposition politicians raised fears yesterday that the move would confuse patients and potentially delay emergency treatment for seriously ill peopleThe Herald

Under the controversial plan, thousands of patients calling for an ambulance would instead receive a phone call to assess the situation before a decision would be made to send an ambulance.The Evening Times

Is a merger on the cards? A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said:

“There are no plans to amalgamate the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24 – BBC

Better watch out guys – that’s as good as saying it’s going to happen.

P.S. A number of regular commentators to this blog have mentioned that SAS are planning to shut all the stations and have crews out on cover – sounds very reminiscent of Staffordshire under Roger (insane) Thayne. I couldn’t find anything about this on the web – has it not been officially announced yet? Can anyone send me details?


Investigative Journalism

7 January, 2007

Not quite Watergate

The Sunday Express duo of James Murray and David Paul have been digging up more dirt on the ambulance service.

Our investigation reveals a catalogue of worrying cases we have uncovered in a public service which is now itself in need of emergency treatment. [my emphasis]

You can read the full article from the Sunday Express and revel in all the facts that Murray and Paul have uncovered. It’s amazing – all of these cases have been in the public domain this week.

Even more startling though is their conclusion is that I provide second class care. Never mind that I’m a paramedic of 10 years standing and an ECP to boot – that fact that I work as a solo response on a car means I’m just not up there with a double EMT crew.

“now it is feared that staff in the cars do not provide the best care at the scene and simply do not compare with two-crew teams.”

Well that says it all then – might as well not bother.

Fiddling the Stats

7 January, 2007

Supposedly in charge

Some things never change. In the pursuit of Nu-Labour’s holy grail of response times, the East Of England Ambulance Service has been cooking the books.

Error in ambulance response times – Suffolk Evening Star

Dr Chris Carney admitted “an error of judgement” after his trust failed to adhere to government guidelines on how to record its response times.

Of course it’s not his fault:

The trust today said that the error happened at a time when its chief executive, Dr Chris Carney, was on sick leave

So that’s ok then. The real culprits will get away with it and no heads will roll. They’ve had an inquiry and the whole thing’s been swept under the carpet – like usual.

Maria Ball, chair of the new East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “The Trust Board is happy with the conclusions drawn by the inquiry and considers the matter closed.

Another white wash

Death by Lunch

6 January, 2007

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.

Donald Werz yu trowzers?

1 January, 2007

Oh please! Not while I’m eating.

Yes it’s all happening on Anthony (seems like a nice boy) Marsh’s patch again.

West Midlands Ambulance Service had a call, at 5.45am, from the Willenhall area, from a man who could not find his trousers – from the Birmingham Post

While trousers were down, calls were up, but quieter than expected.

Other calls from useless tossers:

32-year-old man who “couldn’t walk after too much dancing
a teenager who had toothache.

Meanwhile, Northumbria Police revealed that a drunk dialled 999 to complain that there was too much chilli sauce on his kebab, while another caller wanted help to find a pizza takeaway. The late-night caller asked if there were any pizza shops still open and when he was told that was not an emergency, replied: “It is mate, my wife is pregnant and gagging for pizza.”

God bless those great British pissheads – always good for a laugh.


30 December, 2006

Have no fear, Tony’s here.

Apparently West Midlands Ambulance Service are expecting their busiest New Year ever. Now there’s a surprise. So is every other ambulance service and its the same old whinge every year. But WMAS has a new CEO – Anthony (don’t call me Tony) Marsh and Tony, opps sorry, Anthony has a reputation and a ‘stats’ record to uphold. Consequently it’ll be ‘all hands on deck’ at WMAS on Sunday night. With a big smile and a superb ‘slight of hand’ Tony has managed to conjure up 40 (yes 40) extra response cars for New Year’s Eve. So has there been a mass breakout of automobiles from Longbridge? No, Tony’s cancelled all leave and

“nearly all ambulance staff will be forced to leave their families behind on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to man control rooms or ambulances.”

I think it’s fair to say that we can expect managers, who haven’t seen a patient in umpteen years, to be sent out to consider whether a patient really needs an ambulance.

“Bosses hope it will take the strain off paramedics and crews by assessing the situation and deciding whether an ambulance is necessary.”

If the experience of my service is anything to go by then they probably wouldn’t know an MI or a CVA if it stood up an introduced itself. Still, that’s not the point, it’s all about response times and here, Tony’s the man for the job.

In fairness, Mr Marsh will definitely be on duty; no doubt prowling the control room, interfering with the dispatchers and driving everyone mad. It’s unlikely he’ll go out and see any patients as he “doesn’t do patients”.

Good luck if you work for WMAS and Happy New Year Anthony.

A Merry Xmas in Yorkshire

23 December, 2006

Merry Christmas from Yorkshire Ambulance.

Health service managers are at it again. “Let’s motivate our staff by sending them our fondest Christmas wishes.”

The Yorkshire ambulance service sent redundancy notices to 400 NHS staff yesterday (Dec 20th)….Simon Worthington, the acting chief executive, said 400 employees in management, administrative and support roles were being given 90 days’ notice of redundancy if they could not secure redeployment.

Merry f**king Christmas to you to Mr Worthington.