October the 1st, 2004.
We are now one year on from the implementation of Agenda for Change (AfC), and us EMTs still don't know what our new pay and conditions are going to be. The planning for AfC was started a year before this. So AfC has been with us for two years.
I think one of my commenters put it best when someone asked about AfC.
The pay rise announcement for paramedics, whilst being a significant rise, is not the great deal that it's been made out to be, with very little option for improving your pay based on skills and knowledge.
The rise for Technicians which is what you would be to start with if you joined the ambulance service, is still to be decided. The offer from management has been thrown out by the unions as it was utter rubbish, and it's now been referred to a national committee. If the rumours are true, and it seems that's the way it will be, techs will be placed in Band 4 of Agenda for Change, so while our gross annual salary will rise to just over £25k, our basic salary will effectively drop from £21,900 to around £19k, with the rest being made up from enhancements – unsocial hours payments, London allowance etc. We'll get time and a half for overtime, but that'll be based on the £19k basic. Plus band 4 doesn't recognise us doing ECGs, giving drugs and supervising trainees.
To put it into perspective – there are hospital cleaners that are going to be placed in band 4. Enough said?
Sorry to rant on but this A4C stuff, but it really annoys the Hell out of me!
For me, it's not about the money – it's about recognising us for the jobs we do and the skills that we have. We essentially work on our own, have to solve time-critical problems and give drugs that are normally only prescribed by doctors. We are at risk of being beaten up, we have to calm situations down, and maybe even be the first on scene at terrorist bombings.
Yet it seems that we are not recognised for this, instead our basic pay will drop, and the only way that we will make up the shortfall will be the new idea (for the ambulance service at least) that working rotating shifts should earn you a bit more money. The drop in basic pay will imply that our day to day work is not worthy of financial recognition.
Of course, this is all supposition, as no-one seems to know anything.
Morale at the moment is, to put it bluntly, crap, and it wouldn't surprise me if there were some form of 'action' in the near future. (Nothing that would affect patient care though).
It isn't helped by the misinformation in the media that is claiming that we will be earning a 30% pay rise, as this is purely for our (top trained) Emergency Care Paramedics, who are taking on the role of out-of-hours GPs. ECPs are in band 7, EMTs are likely to be put in band 4. So I won't be seeing a 30% increase…
At least we haven't got a job description that tells us to expect to be beaten up by patients and their relatives.