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Ambulance service hit by staff sickness

4th November 2011

High levels of staff sickness are having a major impact on the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Ambulance

It is feared the number of paramedics off work is having an effect on the service’s ability to reach life-threatening emergency calls.

While the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust is taking action to reduce sickness rates and has plans in place to manage absences, it is incurring extra costs to provide cover at overtime rates.

However, the service is hitting target times and has done so for the last eight months but concern is now mounting about the impact high levels of long and short term sickness are beginning to have.

The service received more than 29,000 calls in September with seven out of 10 calls in the life-threatening category met with eight minutes, hitting the Welsh target of 65%.

The ambulance service has the worst sickness performance in the NHS in Wales reaching a high of 7.3% in March, and although that had fallen to 6.6% by September is still higher than the NHS Wales average of 5.2%.

Unison said the level of pressure the staff faced was a factor in the sickness rate.

A Welsh ambulance spokesperson service said: “Our sickness absence rates are reducing year on year, however we recognise more work is needed and are committed, with the support of our trade union colleagues, to bring this down even further.

“Some of the initiatives we are introducing to address this issue include setting up a health and wellbeing group, a staff support service and absence management training.”

 

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