Shortage Of Staff Is The Underlying Problem At London Ambulance Service As CQC Recommend Special Measures For Ambulance Trust
Existing staff have had to shoulder more responsibility as crews are not well resourced on each shift whilst responding to 999 calls across the capital says GMB.
GMB, the union for ambulance staff, commented on the recommendation by England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards that London Ambulance Service NHS Trust should be placed into special measures following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission. See notes to editors for copy of press release from Care Quality Commission (CQC) on Friday 27th November.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer, said "The underlying problem is a shortage of staff. There is a seriously high vacancy rate in the LAS and other ambulance services for some time.
We are pleased CQC have identified this and perhaps now this can be addressed in full. As a result of staff shortages, existing staff have had to shoulder more responsibility as crews are not well resourced with adequate numbers on each shift whilst responding to 999 calls across the capital.
GMB and the ambulance trade unions have already nationally called for a specific recruitment and retention premia for Paramedics and we already know that large numbers of ambulance staff are looking to leave the service because of the increase in pressures.
CQC has identified the lack of training and skills available across the LAS. The Dept of Health can't relinquish their responsibility in ensuring a proper programme is set out in the investment of terms and condition of ambulance staff. Earlier this year the NHS pay dispute was partly resolved for the ambulance service after specific concessions was secured for the ambulance staff. These concessions included a much needed review of ambulance staff terms and conditions which is a decade out of date.
We welcome the CQC findings on the contribution staff make in ensuring LAS remains a caring service. We strongly reiterate that LAS really need to get a handle on the serious bullying culture staff are being exposed to and we welcome the dialogue that has started with them on this serious issue.
GMB representing many LAS ambulance staff will ensure we work effectively with LAS and external providers to ensure LAS address many of the findings set out by the CQC as it is essential members are adequately supported whilst responding to emergency calls in London."
Contact: Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer on 07841 181656 or London & East of England Dave Powel 07710 631 349 or GMB Press Office: 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.
Notes to editors
Copy of press release from Care Quality Commission (CQC). FRIDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2015
England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, has recommended that London Ambulance Service NHS Trust should be placed into special measures following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Overall, London Ambulance Service (LAS) NHS Trust has been rated as Inadequate. A team of inspectors found that the trust delivered services that were caring, but that improvements were needed on safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership.
During the inspection, which took place over a three week period in June, a team of 54 CQC inspectors and specialists including paramedics, urgent care practitioners, operational managers and call handlers looked in detail at the trust's emergency operations centres, the emergency and urgent care service, patient transport services and the resilience service, including the hazardous area response team.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: "I am recommending that London Ambulance Service be placed into special measures because I believe that this is the step necessary to ensure that this vital service - which provides emergency medical services to 8.6 million Londoners - gets the support it needs to improve.
"The Trust has been performing poorly on response times since March 2014. This is a very serious problem, which the trust clearly isn't able to address alone, and which needs action to put right.
"The frontline staff who CQC inspectors talked to and observed in their work were overwhelmingly dedicated, hardworking and compassionate, which is why I have rated this service 'Good' for Caring.
"However, these staff were not being properly supported to do their jobs. Some reported a culture of harassment and bullying and we found that in many cases there just weren't enough properly trained staff, or that the proper equipment wasn't available to them.
"The leadership of LAS has told us that they have already taken action to address the issues we have raised, and we will be monitoring the service closely to ensure this continues. But support from external partners including the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England will also be crucial to achieving the improvements needed. This is why I'm making a recommendation of special measures, triggering a process which gives LAS access to a package of additional resources and support.