aramedics have told of patients left on floors for hours and “horrendous” waits to hand people to A&E staff as they stood on picket lines in the latest dispute over pay.
Outside the Beechdale Ambulance Station in Nottingham, East Midlands Ambulance Service’s Nottinghamshire divisional HQ and training centre, half a dozen GMB union members were out on the picket line first thing on Wednesday morning.
Vimal Mistry, a paramedic for seven years, told the PA news agency: “After the pandemic things have just got worse. People are queuing at hospitals, (queuing for) primary care.
“People can’t get appointments anymore so they put off going to the doctor’s and when it gets worse they come to us.
“Staff see all this and just get run down.
“With interest rates and fuel costs going up, people just can’t afford the things they could do before.
“I’m now having to think about how much heating I have on in the house – I have it on for two hours now.”
He said waiting for hours to hand over patients to emergency departments is “horrendous” and it has become far worse over the last four weeks.
Another worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said she joined EMAS as a member of ambulance support crew eight months ago, having previously worked in the control room.
She described struggles to get to patients caused by handover delays.
She said: “From when I came in, it’s been so busy. The norm is for ambulances to wait for hours. It’s not common to be on stand-by, or waiting for a job allocation. It’s always been hard.
“It’s not pleasant getting to a job that’s possibly 24 hours old. It’s just really disheartening – going to a patient who has possibly been on the floor for 12 hours is just so disheartening.”
I can’t just go out shopping with my friends or go to bars. I really need to think about what I’m spending my money on
She added: “It’s really hard. I bought a house at the start of last year when electricity and gas didn’t cost what it does now.
“I took that into my budget and I could afford it, whereas now I am having to think about when I’m putting the heating on, what food I’m buying.
“I can’t just go out shopping with my friends or go to bars. I really need to think about what I’m spending my money on.
“On New Year’s Eve, I fortunately got it off, and all my friends were going to go out but I couldn’t afford it because I don’t get paid enough and don’t have the savings to just splash out.”
She said she is currently “getting by” but this could soon become unsustainable, and that, while she does not want to leave her job, she could be forced to if things do not improve.
Paramedic Jenny Giblin, 38, was on a picket line in Birkenhead, Wirral, with 16-month-old son James Evans.
It’s demoralising. I dread coming into work sometimes because I know what’s going to happen
She said: “I’ve been a paramedic for seven years and it’s definitely got worse.
“We used to have to queue outside hospitals at certain times, like with winter pressures, but now it’s every day. Corridors are almost like wards.
“Sometimes you spend a whole shift on a corridor.
“It’s demoralising. I dread coming into work sometimes because I know what’s going to happen.”
Craig Thomson, a regional organiser for the GMB union, said: “We need the Government to really step up their support and acknowledge workloads.“Some members are reporting 12, 13, 14, 15-hour shifts. We’ve been stressing the need for minimum levels of staffing and support for years.”
He added: “What we are saying to the Government is stop with the antics of anti-strike legislation, come to the table, negotiate with us and give our workers what they deserve.”
Meanwhile, several drivers honked their horns in a show of support as they passed the station, which is also the Nottinghamshire divisional headquarters and training centre for EMAS.
Several members of the public also stopped to say they are supporting those on strike
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