Mad Friday reveals last year 900,000 ambulance calls answered without paramedics

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GMB investigation on ‘Mad Friday’ reveals 900,000 ambulance emergency calls were answered without paramedics last year.

Information from GMB has exposed the critical shortage of ambulance staff as a result of government policy has resulted in almost one million ambiance calls responded to without trained  paramedics. As a result of austerity, lack of investment in public services, stress to public sector employees, pay-caps, and moves to privatise the NHS, evidence shows service levels are unsafe and wholly inadequate.

Police forced to take patients to hospital due to shortages in more than 1,000 incidents of 999 ambulance calls

On the day dubbed ‘Mad Friday’, an investigation by GMB, the union for ambulance staff, reveals at least 900,000 emergency calls for ambulances were not attended by a paramedic in England last year.

And in more than 1,000 confirmed cases trusts were forced to ask the police to take injured patients to hospital due to ambulance shortages. The real figure is likely to be as high as 5,000.

‘Mad Friday’ – the last Friday before Christmas – is one of the busiest days of the year for amulance staff as many people celebrate finishing work for the festive period.

GMB submitted a freedom of information (FoI) request to all 10 ambulance trusts in England asking: ‘How many 999 calls to your trust were attended only by emergency care assistants, or other non-fully qualified paramedics rather than with a fully-qualified paramedic in the financial year 2016/17?’

The nine responding trusts disclosed that there were a total of 882,465 incidents last year.

However, the true figure is likely to be significantly higher as East of England Ambulance Services refused to respond, claiming it would take them too long to find the information.

South East Coast Ambulance Service had the highest number of non-paramedic responses with 190,813 incidents.

North East ambulance service’s response revealed 155,902 incidents, of which 650 were in response to the most life-threatening ‘Red One’ calls.

The trust also revealed 887 incidents where the police took patients to hospital due to a shortage of ambulance staff.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“It will send shockwaves through the country that hundreds of thousands of patients, some of them involved in life-threatening incidents, are not being attended by a trained paramedic.

“Proper support for our overstretched ambulance services is literally a matter of life and death.

“GMB members are performing miracles every day but the system is failing because funding just hasn’t kept pace with demand.

“Paramedics and other ambulance staff regularly work 12-hour shifts or longer. They have no more to give.

“This must be a wake-up call for Jeremy Hunt.

“It is vital that our ambulance services are given the additional resources they desperately need.”

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer for Ambulance Staff, said:

“How many people will die this Christmas because the Chancellor refuses to properly fund our ambulance services?

“Is anyone in this Government prepared to apologise to the patients given inadequate care by over stretched and under-trained staff?

“Is anyone in this Government prepared to apologise to the families of those who die because of staff shortages? I bet not.”

[1] Results of GMB Freedom of Information Request to NHS Ambulance Trusts in England:

[2] The National Audit Office found in January 2017 that in the 2010 – 2015 Parliament funding for ambulance services rose by 16 per cent but demand rose by 30 per cent:“Increased funding for urgent and emergency activity has not matched rising demand, and future settlements are likely to be tougher. Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, income for ambulance trusts’ urgent and emergency care activity increased by 16% from £1.53 billion to £1.78 billion. Over this period, activity (ambulance calls and NHS 111 transfers) rose by 30%. Commissioners have warned that, given current financial challenges in the wider health service, future funding settlements are likely to be tighter (paragraph 1.12).”National Audit Office, NHS Ambulance Services, 26 January 2017, page 7: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/nhs-ambulance-services/

 

Overworked Ambulance Staff forced to take 80,000 sick days due to stress.

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GMB INVESTIGATION REVEALS OVERWORKED FRONTLINE AMBULANCE STAFF FORCED TO TAKE 80,000 SICK DAYS DUE TO STRESS
Twelve per cent of all paramedics and ambulance health care assistants in England were sick due to stress or anxiety last year.
GMB, the union for ambulance staff, has revealed 12 per cent of all ambulance staff were forced to take a total of more than 80,000 sick days due to stress last year. A total of 2,468 paramedics and health care assistants – or one in eight workers – had to take time off due to stress. The total number of days lost across England was 81,668 on the financial year 2016/17.
The shocking figures come from a series of Freedom of Information requests sent by GMB to all ten Ambulance Trusts in England. In two of the trusts – East Midlands Ambulance and North East Ambulance – a shocking 23 per cent and 22 per cent of frontline staff took sick days due to stress. [See note 1 for regional breakdown].
GMB is campaigning for the paramedic retirement age to be equalised with other physically demanding front-line emergency service roles, such as police officers and firefighters who are able to retire at 60.

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer, said:
“These disturbing figures once again prove what we already know – that our frontline ambulance workers are in the midst a stress and anxiety epidemic.

“They are consistently overworked, underpaid and expected to do incredibly difficult jobs – such as dealing with the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster or Manchester bombings – without adequate staff or resources. “It’s no wonder almost 12 per cent of the whole workforce is sick with stress.

“Theresa May needs to stop buying her head in the sand and start listening to front-line ambulance workers.

“Workforce numbers haven’t kept pace with sharply rising demand.

“Forcing ambulance staff to work up to the age of 68 is another major cause of stress. There’s no justification for treating paramedics differently to comparable physically demanding front-line roles.

“The absences caused by staff shortages and overwork are already contributing to potential delays in the attending incidents.

“The absence of staff due to stress will only compound this situation.

“If any patients lose their lives as a result, the blame falls fairly and squarely on an uncaring Tory Government for not dealing with stress and anxiety of our frontline emergency staff.

“It’s time paramedics and other ambulance staff workers got the support they deserve.”

[1] Paramedic and other ambulance staff absences due to stress, anxiety and related conditions in 2016/17
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iGMB asked Ambulance Trusts to provide “details of how many of your paramedics and emergency care assistants have taken time of work due to stress in the financial year 2016 – 2017.”
Employment totals for the financial year 2016/17 are taken from the March 2017 ‘Organisation Tables’ of NHS England’s NHS Workforce Statistics – March 2017 publication: http://www.content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB24214

 

 

What do unions think of Labour’s manifesto?

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http://www.union-news.co.uk/breaking-unions-welcome-labours-manifesto/

Unions have welcomed Labour’s election manifesto, praising it as “impressive”, a “chance for real change” and “a real opportunity to build a better Britain”.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “This is an exciting and progressive platform on which Labour can fight the next election. It offers people a real opportunity to help build a better Britain.

“Jeremy understands how ordinary hardworking men and women are suffering in the Conservative Age of Austerity. David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May and Philip Hammond have pulled off the trick of redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich – the reverse of Robin Hood! – to bail out the fat cats and bankers who caused the economic crisis of 2008.

“In contrast Jeremy wants to rebuild Britain to create a fairer, more modern society, with a more productive economy, that delivers for all the people, not just the few, and is fit for the 21st century.

“We especially welcome the promise to bring Britain’s railways back into public ownership – a policy on which ASLEF has campaigned passionately ever since John Major’s ill-starred privatisation of British Rail in 1994 – and freeze passenger fares across the network.

“This is an exciting, and sensible, socialist platform on which any of the great Labour Party leaders of the past – Keir Hardie, Clement Attlee, and Harold Wilson – would have been happy to stand. That’s why I urge people to vote Labour on 8 June and help return a Labour government to build a better Britain.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Labour’s pledges to end the public sector pay cap, improve collective bargaining, repeal anti-trade union legislation and strengthen employment rights stand in stark contrast to the Conservatives’ bogus claims on workers’ rights.

“Labour’s manifesto sets out a clear commitment to many long-standing PCS industrial issues and demands, including an end to the privatisation of public services, renationalisation of public utilities and raising the pay of civil and public service workers.

“Tax reforms we have long campaigned for – including the ‘Robin Hood tax’ – offer the opportunity to ensure that those with the greatest wealth contribute more. Coupled with much-needed investment in HMRC to go after those who evade and avoid tax, these reforms will provide essential and much-needed investment in our public services.

“Plans to reform social security, including scrapping the hated Bedroom Tax, ending benefit sanctions and reinstating housing benefit for those under 21, are most welcome and signal a shift away from the policy of demonising claimants doggedly pursued by the Tories.

“Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have always shown great support for PCS campaigns and our members, and their pledges are in stark contrast to what the Tories have to offer. We have been clear that our message to our members is that another Tory government would be the worst possible outcome.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This is an exciting, ambitious vision for a big-hearted, inclusive Britain that will build better lives for the many not the few. What’s not to like? Of course, as the head of transport union which has long campaigned to see rail brought back into public ownership I am delighted on behalf of TSSA members to welcome Labour’s commitment to taking back control of rail from corporate franchise holders who for too long have been able to get away with extracting profit out of our rail system without having to plough back into it in investment.

“Great news that the construction of HS2 is to be extended into Scotland as is that HS3 and Crossrail 2 will also be built. Good quality rail links are at the heart of a modern economy and today we have been not just been given the plan but the commitment to bringing every area of Britain onto 21st century track.

“This manifesto will transform Britain’s rail industry and help underpin the expansion of a high speed, high-tech economy. Our members too will be delighted at the commitment to a £10 living wage which will lift so many of their fellow workers and family members off the bread line. The commitment to house building, an industrial strategy, NHS and public services shows Labour is putting people back at the heart of British economy, committing to giving the many a wage rise. This manifesto show working people are definitely better off with Labour. Bring on June 8.”

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “There are clear dividing lines for who to vote for in this election. Labour will invest in firefighters in order to keep people safe, whereas the Tories will continue to cut and decimate our service, putting public safety at risk.

“Having 3,000 more firefighters on the frontline is a promising start, and we welcome their commitment to review staffing levels across the service as a whole.

“Fire deaths have risen for the first time in 20 years since the Tories came to power, and response times to emergencies are getting slower. The service is in crisis and the Tories don’t have a plan to save it. Labour are the safe pair of hands who will deliver a properly resourced fire service to protect public safety.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “What Labour is doing today is what Labour does best – offering real change for the many in this country. Labour will invest in our people and build a Britain that we can all be proud of.

“For those who want to see our children given a chance, to see that work really pays, that our elderly and vulnerable are no longer degraded by government policy, then the answer is to vote Labour.

“For too long, working people have been at the sharp end of Conservative cuts and disastrous economic mismanagement – and they will be again if that party takes power on 8 June. The reality of Conservative rule is that for those not protected by power and wealth, life gets tougher.

“In every aspect of life – from an affordable home to a safe NHS, from a decent education for all our kids to a living wage and a decent job – the story of the Tory party is that our communities suffer. The Labour party will put a halt to this. Under Labour, working people and their communities will stand tall again.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Labour has produced a manifesto that delivers for public services. Ending the pay cap will make a huge difference for hard-pressed public sector employees. Proper investment in the NHS and social care will have a huge impact on patients and staff too.

“When the other parties unveil their manifestos later this week, they would do well to take a leaf out of Labour’s book – and stand up for public services and those who work in them.”

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “Labour’s manifesto is one that would practically change millions of lives. From social care, to housing, to Sure Start and our NHS – it’s a manifesto that makes sense for working people.

“It’s a manifesto about fairness and about helping real people to get by and get on in life. It’s not paying lip service to the issues people face, it’s taking them head on. The country is crying out for change. This is a manifesto that can deliver it. People need to get out there and vote for it.”

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “Universal Credit will plunge far more working families into poverty, which will be almost impossible to work their way out of. We supported the initial intentions of Universal Credit, to simplify benefits and improve incentives to work.  However, severe cost cutting has turned Universal Credit into a real threat to the incomes of low-paid working families,

“Although we won the argument on the proposed massive cuts to tax credits, forcing a u-turn from the Government; those cuts are still being applied to Universal Credit and will hit millions of working families over the next 3 years. This is a ticking time bomb that will leave many working families thousands of pounds worse-off when they are transferred onto Universal Credit.

“We are looking to a Labour Government to restore the original purpose of Universal Credit, to encourage entry to and progression in work. The low work allowance and high clawback of net earnings are particular disincentives to work. There needs to be a fresh look at what Universal Credit means in practice for low and middle income earners and get this troubled project back on track to support not penalise working families.

“Whilst the Prime Minister has talked about supporting families struggling to make ends meet, only Labour has the policies to provide crucial support to help make working family incomes meet the cost of living.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is an impressive set of pledges from the Labour Party. Their commitments to improve workers’ rights and drive up wages would make a real difference to millions of workers.

“There’s clearly a growing political consensus to address issues affecting working people. Decent jobs and fair pay must top of the list for the new government.

“Nobody voted for Brexit to lose their hard-won protections at work. That is why Labour is right to protect existing rights at work, and pledge to at least match future EU rights. British workers shouldn’t miss out on rights enjoyed by other European workers.

“With one in ten workers now in insecure jobs, it’s good to see a real attempt to improve workplace rights. Banning zero-hours contracts would give nearly a million workers the certainty and security they deserve. And abolishing employment tribunal fees would make it easier for people to defend their rights at work.

“Labour rightly recognises that Britain still needs a pay rise. Wages still haven’t recovered from the financial crash, and far too many working people struggle to pay the bills.

“Increasing the minimum wage, and expanding collective bargaining coverage, are proven and effective ways to drive up stagnating pay.

“And ending artificial pay restrictions in the public sector will stop the real pay cuts for public servants after seven long years. Hard-working nurses shouldn’t be forced to turn to food banks.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Labour’s commitment to British state ownership of our rail,  power and water, ‎as opposed to the foreign state-backed exploitation of our essential services supported by the Tories, shows that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is clearly fighting to protect our national interests.

“Labour’s manifesto recognises the dangers of Driver Only Operation and commits to safe and accessible railways for all.  The manifesto represents a massive boost for public transport after more than two decades of Tory privatisation and RMT welcomes this departure from the failed, profiteering model that has dragged Britain into the slow lane.”

That’s why it’s called a ‘struggle!’

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By Theresa Byrne, previously published here
Ok I’ll start in the traditional style, and confess: I pinched the headline from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to Scottish Labour. But it summed up my feelings and emotions over the last few days. Yes politics is a struggle, yes it is a constant push for progressiveness. And that is why most of us are in it.Change is not easy, whether it is changing a habit or changing a mind set. That is a psychological and emotional given. The Labour party is about change. Change in society, change in economics, change in politics. Many within the party forgot that after 1997, because the changes in society that were introduced were easily done. And were in many ways relatively superficial.

Take an example. The National Minimum Wage was introduced in 1999. It was profound in many ways, as the government said via the Low Pay Commission ‘this is the minimum people can be paid’. Many people on very low wages received a significant increase in their wages, the threatened job losses never materialised in the numbers forecast, the amount of the NMW slowly crept up, and the Tories accepted it as inevitable. But the amount of the NMW was not a significant amount of money, not really enough to live on and still required additional benefits from both government and local councils in order for families and people to survive. The concept was excellent but the execution left much to be desired. The underlying philosophy of poorly paid jobs with poor prospects was not directly challenged by the government, it was accepted. A superficial change to the pay structure was introduced but the two or three tier job market remained. Where was the necessary investment in manufacturing that could have created better jobs? Where was the governmental challenge to repeated outsourcing of work by business which encouraged the minimum level jobs and eventually to zero hours work?

Opportunities to challenge and significantly change the way society operated at an economic level were missed by the Labour Government between 1997 and 2010. We missed the chance to have the arguments and discussions about the links between taxation and public services, preferring to allow PFIs to pay for new hospitals and schools, and to allow the financial services bubble to pay for other investments. We did not regulate the financial markets so the crash that happened in 2008 caused horrendous problems to the economy and to people, as the Government scrambled to save the banking industry. We also then allowed the Tories to set the myth that we overspent, even when they had agreed with our spending plans back in 2007.

If we had made the case for taxation paying for public services, people would have understood that Labour was not overspending. We were providing those services such as the Health Service, social care, education etc in common, as common goods where we share the responsibility and the cost of provision together because we share the goods. We pay for the services, they are not ‘provided’ for us through a vague government spending concept but through taxation paid by everyone and a progressive taxation system where the more income you have the more you pay is the balanced and fair way to tax. But this argument was not made. And by the time we needed to challenge the myth it was too late, our opportunity has passed by. We have to remember that in 1997 the schools, hospitals and local services were in such a dire situation that the people understood that (i) a new government was needed and (ii) that serious investment was demanded. That was our opportunity to make the case for taxation to pay for the services and people were open to us, to our new ideas. We failed to make that case. Again we superficially changed by investing through PFIs but the underlying philosophy of linking taxation to public services as a part of a civilised society to challenge the economic view of taxation as a necessary evil that should be reduced for a small state was not made.

Our struggle now must be to understand, explain and argue for fundamental change in society, in economics and in politics which is what Jeremy Corbyn is about. The policies he has put forward, with John McDonnell, about investment in housing, in education, in the Health Service and local government, in secure jobs are all direct challenges to the neo-liberal free market knows best economics that have been in existence for over 30 years. The struggle is about asking questions about people’s perceptions, talking with them about why we believe that investment in housing is not just good for providing a home but for jobs, for increasing taxation in the economy, allowing people to establish themselves and build a community. Talk with them about the importance of security in work, how it builds community, allows children to feel secure, allows more people to become active and involved in their local community at a volunteer level because they can relax and not worry so much about still having a job tomorrow or next week. Talk with them about a good quality Health Service where having a serious illness is not a cause for money worries but an opportunity to focus on the importance of getting better, or dealing with the psychological consequences of illness. Talk to people are having a good social care system integrated with health, housing, community links so that elderly people, those with disabilities can be part of the community and know that their needs are being dealt with not just adequately but well and with respect.

We are facing a challenge, the challenge to change and more importantly to struggle to get our voices heard. We are being challenged but we must rise to the struggle together. We have a leader who wants us to be with him, to stand alongside him in the fight. If we are to be true to our comradeship, then we stand shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn ready for the struggle, for the fight. We are doing it with and for the people, lending our strength and voice to their struggle as all in solidarity. We must not be found wanting, and I am sure we will not be. We will change the world, to a world of peace and justice where no one and no community is left behind step by step by step.