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Health and Safety

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             Pre-Hospital Healthcare Providers                  

It was recently reported in the media, that when some Paramedics offered to carry out voluntary work overseas, their offer was declined because “we don’t need ambulance drivers”; which mirrors a common misunderstanding about what Paramedics and other ambulance clinicians actually do during their shifts, despite a recent programme about London Ambulance Service receiving great applause; which is why I will endeavour to paint a picture about pre-hospital clinicians, who just happen to also drive ambulances.

The pre-hospital healthcare worker is just that; a person involved in the provision of healthcare to others outside of a hospital or clinical environment. The day to day

Post Bag December 2014

Christmas is just around the corner and the sub-zero temperatures have already made an appearance. We have seen an increase in staff numbers, some from other Trusts and some new to the service in general. With this in mind I have collated the most talked about subjects into this month’s Post Bag, in no particular order of preference or importance.

Footwear: Operational members of staff are entitled to have two pairs. This is to enable them to allow them to dry out and air between shifts, which also reduces bacterial growth in the materials. Members of staff should submit a replacement request in sufficient time for the replacements to arrive before the existing ones become unusable. If footwear or other parts of uniform are removed by the Police for forensic purposes then replacements can also be requested and hastened.

Senior Paramedics and Senior Technicians: This has been well received across the Trust and forms an essential part of staff development & progress. There will be no changes to items of uniform however those members of staff that have been upgraded are entitled to have “Senior Paramedic” or “Senior Technician” on their Trust Identity Card.

Violence and Aggression: The Trust Health and Safety committee would be grateful if members of staff that have suffered violence & aggression during the course of the work, which resulted in the assailant facing charges and being sentenced or having other sanctions imposed, could inform the committee by passing details to Anne Wright or Danny Daniel.

Allocation of Calls: The Trust has issued ESOP 25 which gives directions to EOC staff in the allocation of calls to ambulance crews who have passed their meal break or shift finish time. When a crew are assigned to a call and have passed their meal break (or shift finish time) they CANNOT be assigned to another call (even of a higher category) unless the dispatcher first contacts the crew to ask if they are prepared to accept the next call.

If the crew decline the next call, they are to be left on their original call. If the crew accept the next call, they will THEN be stood down from the original call and given the next call which they may have to see through to completion including the conveyance of patient to hospital. If this call is then cancelled the crew cannot be given an additional further call or returned to the original call.

This will prevent situations whereby the crew have been stood down and expect to have their meal break (or to go home) only to be given a further call which has caused problems in the past.

Lowestoft Fire Stations: Members of staff working in the Waveney and East Suffolk areas now have an additional Response post on the north side of Lowestoft. Access is only possible if the vehicle has a Fire Service authorised key fob on the ignition key ring. No Fob? No access. Simples !

Meal Breaks: The agreement is that EOC should confirm the meal break time to crews at the start of their shift. Once this allocated time has been passed to the crew it cannot be changed by EOC unless it has first been discussed and agreed with the crew.

EOC can contact the crew and offer them the opportunity for an earlier meal break if the call volume is low; likewise if a crew are at a response post and nearing their meal break time they can contact EOC and offer to start their meal break earlier if the call volume is manageable.

Mandatory Roadworthy Checks: Unison has been working with the Trust to establish a period of protected time at the start of the shift during which the crew will not be disturbed while they carry out the Mandatory Roadworthy Checks of their vehicles.  Initial discussions agreed that a trial period of 3 months should provide sufficient evidence to support how long members of staff require to carry out these Mandatory Roadworthy Checks. Once these checks have been completed the vehicle can be considered as meeting the legal obligations at that time and the crew allocated to calls.

Health & Safety Postbag

February 2015

Over the past three years a lot of my time has been taken up with issues and concerns in respect of ambulance crew safety.  My work has mainly been focused upon the impact of our crews as a result of:

  • The increase in 999 emergency calls
  • Pressures to meet “motoring” targets as opposed to clinical outcomes
  • Pressures to meet hospital turnaround times
  • Pressures of not being able to ensure the vehicles are checked at shift starts
  • Pressures of General Broadcasts reminding crews of outstanding RED calls
  • Pressures, pressures, pressures.

This may give the incorrect impression that my work has been solely focused on frontline crews. This is not so. I have visited many localities, met with staff and questioned them about their work environment and any issues which they may have been experiencing. From the responses I received it became clear that pressures from above are forced downwards, through the work force until they finally end up impacting on the road crews.

Post Bag September 2015

The much-used phrase “If it’s not written down it did not happen” is frequently bantered around in everyday life, and no place is it more commonly used than in our arena. There are times when it is used to drive home a salient point to clinicians, for example with regard to the assessment and treatment of patients; the rationale behind this being that the patient record must reflect all the actions and pertinent negatives which took place so that a full picture can be presented either for the patients GP, at the hospital or at a subsequent investigation.

Another reason why patient treatment records must be completed fully and accurately is that they may be audited and the content reviewed, inspected, or examined to check for compliance with best practice. Through the audit process it may become apparent that a particular piece of manual handling equipment is extensively being used across the Trust or that a piece of equipment is rarely being used, either because something else is better suited or it was not considered. If the carry chair was used to move the patient, but it is not recorded, then as far as the audit is concerned “it did not happen”.


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