Quitting Paramedics Putting Pressure On NHS

A Growing Number Of Paramedics Are Leaving The Profession


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463
A rising number of paramedics are leaving the NHS, placing increased pressure on other staff and resources in the ambulance service, as well as elsewhere in the organisation.

BBC Radio 4's The Report programme has seen an internal document produced by the London Ambulance Service, which shows at least 1,015 paramedics have left their job over the past year, indicating a significant increase compared to two years ago, when the figure stood at 593.

In the capital alone, 223 ambulance service workers quit last year - four times more than the number who left the profession between 2011 and 2012.

An anonymous London paramedic told the BBC: "When I joined the job, it was very unusual for someone to leave the service other than through retirement, but over the last two or three years, it's escalated beyond belief."

Alison Blakely, who also works for the ambulance service in London, explained some of the issues paramedics face on a day-to-day basis.

She said: "You use hospital facilities for toilets as much as possible and eat and drink as and when you can. The control room do try and get us rest breaks, but due to the demand currently, they are rare."

Chief executive of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives Anthony Marsh explained that staff pressure and patient safety concerns due to paramedics quitting their role are prevalent throughout the country, not just in the capital.

He said that each year, the service receives just over four per cent more emergency callouts, but over the last 12 months, this has increased significantly more than usual, leading to increased pressure that cannot necessarily be dealt with adequately due to decreases in staff numbers.

In addition, the number of new paramedics entering the profession has decreased between 2013 and 2014, with experts concerned there are currently not enough people training to do so either.

However, £28 million has been provided by the Department of Health this year to help ambulance trusts throughout the country cope with rising demand.

Expert Opinion
Providing patients with access to care and treatment quickly plays a critical role in their chances of survival and recovery from illness or following an accident. It is vital the NHS has paramedics on hand to attend incidents and ensure patients are able to access the care they need, in the timeframe required.

“However, these reports suggest the number of paramedics available to the NHS is falling, due to working conditions and the demands placed on their time. It is crucial the complaints of paramedics are listened to by the NHS and any problem areas identified quickly dealt with to ensure staff numbers are increased, to help cope with demand for paramedic services. An increase in funding for ambulance trusts from the government is a positive step and it is important patients are reassured that everything possible is being done to resolve the problems that exist.”
Julianne Moore, Partner