Back And Moaning

It's been a long two or so weeks – lots of shifts with some nasty changes (getting up at 12am for some shifts then less than 48 hours later having to get up at 5am, changing shifts 'backwards' is awful). Add in hardly doing a 'decent' job for a month or two and coping with the management led changes that are causing morale to plummet and it's easy to see why I'm incredibly grateful to be off work for a few days.

Before starting Friday, Saturday, Sunday night-shifts.

Rather than bore you with lots of posts about how bad it is getting I thought I'd keep my moans all short and put them together in one post.

As an example of the sorts of calls that I've been running on blue lights to, with a FRU already in attendance, include a blocked nose and someone with an earache. These then get categorised as 'Cat A' rapid responses – surely this is proof that the computer system which triages these calls is not fit for purpose. Giving everything a high priority is not triage, it's arse-covering.

I'm going to start testing people's eyes soon as part of my assessment – stand them on their doorstep and ask them if they can read the writing on the side of the ambulance, you know, the bit that says 'Emergency Ambulance'…

The blocked nose and earache calls weren't even the normal 'demographic', young wimpish men, they were calls from people who should know better.

Due to 'Call connect' jobs are being sent down to us half-formed. Nothing but an address with no indication of what is wrong with a patient. I refuse to drive on blue lights to these jobs until they give us more information – I'm not going to turn up somewhere without any idea how dangerous it is. Imagine being sent to someone who has been stabbed by a mad family member, knocking on the door and being greeted by someone with a bloodstained knife.

This dangerous practice is due, once more, to the governmental target needing to be met rather than any actual clinical need.

If this job was based on clinical need I'd not be blue-lighting it to blocked noses, yet trundling down the road to elderly patients who have been on the floor all night with a broken hip.

Active Area Cover (AAC) continues to be a farce, as if a computer can predict where the next call comes from when there is a population density as high as in London. Only the other day I returned to station after being out all shift, behind me was another ambulance. We hadn't even opened the front door to the station when the phone started ringing to tell us both we had to turn around and start driving around.

I was told to go to a point 0.7 miles away from the station.

To say that I was fuming that I wouldn't even be able to get a cup of tea would be putting it mildly. So instead I found myself sitting in a cramped cab in the rain only to have to drive back past my station on the very next call.

What irritates me even more is knowing that the people who order us out to roam around are sitting in a nice comfortable office drinking tea and eating biscuits while clapping themselves on the back for a 'job well done'. And they get paid more than me.

Our stock of equipment has been of it's usual high quality, in the last two weeks I have been out on an ambulance with…

  • No scoop stretcher
  • No drug pack
  • No reagent sticks for measuring blood sugars
  • No blood pressure cuff
  • No working ECG leads


  • No oxygen masks

Good job I hardly ever go to anyone who is actually 'sick'.

When I first joined this job, staff morale wasn't too bad, it has now plummeted. This can be the best job in the world, but the changes that are brought in for no reason other than to make some governmental minister happy are destroying the job. To them a successful job is getting two resources to the earache within eight minutes, while ignoring the hypothermic broken hip patient. to them a success is 'doing something', even though there is no evidence that it makes things work any better – after all no-one was ever re-elected by doing nothing to a service even though it works well – you have to 'stamp your mark' don't you know.

It also doesn't matter if you get to a job and can't give the patient oxygen, as that doesn't impact the all important eight minute target.

Expect to see more of this sort of thing and be under no illusions, as far as the government is concerned this is a 'successful' job, because the FRU got there in under eight minutes – it's one of the many reasons why I came off the FRU.

16 thoughts on “Back And Moaning”

  1. These then get categorised as 'Cat A' rapid responses – surely this is proof that the computer system which triages these calls is not fit for purposeThe only positive thing about such software is that it comforts me against my greatest fear. That computers will take over the world. If it cannot tell the difference between calls of genuine emergency criteria, and those which would be better transfered to a recorded message of chemist opening hours, then I can rest easy in my bed. The crying shame is that the government will inevitably have shelled out an arm and a leg to a software design consultant, who is yet to have a one word conversation with anyone effected by the system. Unless they have been using their standard agency for the package – an infinite number of monkeys, typing on an infinite number of typewriters….

  2. Under agenda for change, we were told we were band four stretcher monkeys, (Van drivers for those in the job a little longer) Under call connect we are now just button monkeys……But its ok, coz we can get there in 8 minutes, so it doesn't matter what we do when we get there, I think the government thinks we just pitch up and scratch are arses.

  3. As you so rightly say, morale has plummeted and seems to reach a new all-time low on an almost daily basis. What we need is a government with the courage to scrap these ludicrous targets. It would save a fortune on bureaucracy and the money could be spent on better resources where they're actually needed: crews and equipment. The job's a joke. But then again, where would we be if we had nothing to moan about?Love, Ali J xx

  4. If it's any consolation, we in EOC are as pissed off as the crews. We are being put in a position that we definitely do NOT want to be in. One of the documents which we in control were given states “crews are not to be ALLOWED to return to station EXCEPT fo a break”. THis means that – in theory – I should not ALLOW you to return to collect Oxygen, Morphine, Salbutamol etc etc. In practice, you need these things to do your job (on the relatively few occasions you get a “real” job).I actually used to look forward to coming to work, as each – even in EOC – was different. No longer. We now have managers whose sole job appears to be to wind up staff (road and EOC), to the detriment of any semblance of a good working relationship. I have never ever – in my 13 years in this job – felt anything like as stressed, fed up, put upon and run ragged as I do now. I am seriously now thinking of leaving this job. The blame lies with Peter Bradley and his cohorts.

  5. NHS redirect offered me an ambulance for my acute bronchitis last week. I thought of you and declined. Granted I had an impressive wheeze and could not talk in sentences but some intelligent thought told me as I was not blue it could probably wait for the morning and my GP. My GP and much amoxicillin fixed it I;d have been mortified to waste an ambulance.

  6. According to the report the target was missed because the ambulance was late, when (according to the target criteria) it was met. It's misleading and inaccurate in that respect and also makes a general assumption that the town does not have enough ambulances.If the logs were examined, I expect all ambulances were out dealing with 'sniffy noses' and drunks who had either fallen over or come off second best in a scrap.

  7. I was under the impression that as long as an AED and O2 (as a minimum) were on scene, the ORCON clock could be stopped (that is to say if for instance I as an SJA member were to happen across an incident on my way to/from a duty, and had these available, the ORCON time from my call would be 0 minutes). Surely this works the other way too – if you have no O2 masks, you can't give O2, and therefore the great god ORCON will not be pleased! Obviously not, however

  8. Don't think what you take with you matters to the powers that be anymore. Was asked to go to an OD in a police station not so long ago. No problem, I replied, just give me a minute to sign out some paramedic drugs. The reply beggared belief – denied, go to job and call for paramedic assist should I require a drug pack. Orcon at all costs – including your job!

  9. Snafu , luverly , Promotion comes with filling in the right box.So were be your leads to detect the 'sinus' [sic], in Whitehall, or be they on Petticoat lane holding up a scoop stretcher.

  10. Heartbreaking. Truly heartbreaking. People who once loved their jobs now feeling stressed and ignored. How much more will it take to drop the stupid targets in favour of keeping good, willing and experienced staff? It's tragic.

  11. Jesus Christ! Let's get our ambulances to people who don't need them having first made sure that they don't carry any equipment. Finish this successful cocktail with a dash of disillusioned ambulance crew- result!My daughter is just about to spend three years of her life at University learning how to do this…..

  12. Reynolds, if thee be in this neck of the woods, yee can be parked awaiting for old codgers having breathing problems that are the result of micro-minis sashaying up to the stores, and have thy foggy weather too, by taking a rest outside a nice Starbucks duly marked with a no parking zone for emergency vehicles and drink thy Cafe latte [spiced maybe].Of course they can afford the Latte as if they pick me up for that one mile ride, my wallet will be lighter to the tune of hundred smackers or 25 lattes. so If possible, I choose a cab fare to get my O2 fix.

  13. Good to hear from you mate. Sorry that youre being messed about, again but take heart, you are not alone. Whilst I admit that my job as a Mobile Librarian is not life or death the two services have something in common: Everybody wants them but no-one wants to invest in them and as long as all the right boxes are being ticked for external validation then all is ok, even if the service is disintegrating. I cannot help but feel that I, as a Librarian have failed as I am responsible for promoting ideas (that is what all libraries do) and that in these days when we need especially good ones I am unable to interest anyone other than the elderly or old fashioned (regular readers of limited means) in what I have to offer. I used to joke that being a Librarian is the most dangerous job in the western hemisphere as I am a Distributor of Weapons of Mass Instruction but I think that someone in power must have heard me as successive budget cuts and ridiculous charter mark exercises mean that the library service I know will soon be the best for ticking all the boxes including the ones that say, “lock door, hand in keys and terminate employment”. “Closure Complete”…tick. Job well done! However, Keep your chin up mate, they might miss next time or run out of steam.

  14. Hugs to you Tom.Recently we've had a FRU outside the railway station where I work (you'll be pleased to know he scared the carp out of me the other day with his siren)

    I assume the poor s*d got the short straw to be parked there, as he spent a lot of time getting asked for directions!

    Can I ask, can I nip out and offer him a cup of tea (in a take away cup of course) I wouldn't want him to think I was another nutter obsessed with uniforms.

    please remember that most ordinary folk wouldn't dream of bothering you for rubbish calls.


  15. not sure about the earache (other than twisted head injury coding) but blocked nose leads to difficulty in breathing… in the world of AMPDS anyway.Crazy innit? :/

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