I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories, while there is often a certain elegance to them I have been on this planet far too long to believe that great secrets can be kept. Humans are dreadfully inefficient creatures and a conspiracy needs a more perfect operation than can be handled by bunches of jumped up primates.
What I do see however is A leading to B which leads to C.
On Monday I wrote about the explosion in the use of private ambulances (and a good comment was left, one I shall revisit later), in that post I linked to my piece about the cutting of London ambulance staff by one sixth. A few days later, after the news story had been featured on the BBC, it was announced that London ambulance would be recruiting more staff.
Obviously I was interested, and as I keep an eye on such things, I looked as to who the LAS was looking to recruit. Their only job vacancies at the moment are for ‘Ambulance Support Staff’.
Ambulance support staff are not trained to the same standard as what the public would call ‘Paramedics’, and the plan is to team up one paramedic with a ‘support staff’. So when you call an ambulance only one of the people present will be trained to deal with your medical emergency. The other will essentially be a driver and equipment carrier.
It goes without saying that when there is a serious job, for example a ‘proper’ car accident, then you need all the hands you can get, and in the future you will arrive on a scene and half the people wearing green will be undertrained and underpaid staff.
Needless to say ambulance support staff are paid less than the person that they are sitting next to for twelve hours of the day.
So instead of the old ‘one day drive, one day look after the patient’ that we had always had, the paramedic will be looking after patients for twelve hours a day constantly with no break and no support. Given the unique pressures of ambulance work this is not in the best interests of the health of the paramedic.
Money will be saved, patients will initially not know the difference and paramedics will burn out even faster. These burnouts will be replaced by ‘apprentice paramedics’ who will also be cheaper than those who have been in the job for a longer period of time. What impact do you think that losing all your experienced members of staff will have on morale and, more importantly, patient care?
So we have a cutting of staff, followed by increasing private contractors and now followed by recruiting more staff. These staff are to be paid less than the staff originally lost. And apparently this will have no impact on patient care. The expensive staff will burn out quicker and be replaced by cheaper staff and this will mean patient care will fall.
This is similar to the government’s plan of student nurses working for a year as a HCA – it’s a blatant way of getting free (or certainly very cheap) health care assistants.
A leads to B which leads to C.