Striking and frustrated paramedic tells Shelagh Fogarty about tough working conditions

7 December 2022, 16:42

This frustrated paramedic demands a better ambulance system.

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

As ambulance workers prepare to strike on December 21 and 28, this frustrated paramedic says there is something “fundamentally wrong” with the service.

As the nation braces for waves of strikes across several industries, Shelagh Fogarty spoke with a “frustrated” paramedic who will be participating in the walkouts.

John in London said he felt “awful”.

“We don't want to go on strike” he said, explaining that he is taking industrial action because of working conditions as well as pay.

He shared how the amount of “ignorance around exactly what the ambulance service is” is “frustrating”.

John said Health Secretary Steve Barclay had spoken in a way which is “so removed from exactly what the job is.

This comes after he told Sky News that during the strikes on December 21 and 28, an ambulance would arrive for life-threatening conditions but potentially not for an elderly person falling down.

John said: “We're talking about pay and trying to conflate it with staff waiting outside of hospitals, and I don’t think our message is being put across properly about exactly what it’s like to work for the ambulance service right now.”

John spoke of the challenging conditions he works under.

“I've sat in hospitals for eight or nine hours, I know what it's like. it’s not nice for us, so I can't imagine what it’s like for a patient sitting in the back of an ambulance”, he said.

He added paramedics have 14 minutes to drop off a patient and go back out again, saying: “That is too much in itself.”

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the ambulance service”, John asserted, calling for “better triage” to get an ambulance to the people who genuinely need one.

“I can't remember in all honesty - and this is not me just being hyperbolic - I cannot remember the last time I had a proper break on shift”, he added.

Shelagh agreed, saying: “I know, my sister was the same when she was a midwife - 12 hours no break, not even a break for a pee sometimes.”

READ MORE: Thousands of ambulance workers set to walk out over pay dispute in fresh strike

He explained that paramedics have to use their break time to drive back to the station to warm up their food, saying it was “not acceptable”.

Shelagh added: “As well as your wellbeing, it's not good for the wellbeing of the people you are treating if each house you arrive at you’re semi hysterical with hunger, or tiredness, or zero time, or a back ache, because you haven’t stopped for a second to breathe in and out.”

“They’re expecting you to operate as though we’re in a war”, she said, suggesting soldiers are probably treated “better” than this.

John continued: “The state we’re in right now is because we haven't gone on strike before.”

He said he was “sick and tired” of the “abysmal” and “terrible” turnout on strike votes.

“We haven't had a proper pay rise in 12 years”, the frustration clear in his voice.

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