Welwyn Garden City paramedic one of three ambulance staff deaths amid claims of ‘toxic working conditions’
PUBLISHED: 12:37 26 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:38 26 November 2019
A paramedic from Welwyn Garden City is one of three ambulance workers who have died during a 10-day period this month, with claims the deaths have been caused by “toxic working conditions” at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
Christopher Gill, 41, died at Welwyn Garden City's Birch Court in Howlands on November 15 and the inquest process has begun to determine the cause of his death.
Another paramedic from Luton, Richard Grimes, and 999 operator Luke Wright, 24, from Norwich also died between November 11 and 21.
Whistleblower site Ambulance News Desk has claimed that the three deaths were suicides.
The site has spoken to a colleague at the ambulance trust, who said staff have been "subjected to psychological abuse which had the sole purpose of destroying their self-confidence and ability to do their jobs".
The whistleblower added: "To hear such emotional distress and listen to what they are experiencing is in my professional opinion, scandalous.
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"In a modern-day health service that such behaviour can continue unabated, and it appears with the full backing of the CEO and board, is in direct contrast to what the law demands".
Dr Tom Davis, EEAST medical director said: "We are extremely sad about the deaths recently of three of our colleagues.
"We have extended our sympathies to their families and friends at this difficult time and we have provided immediate support to them and to our colleagues, including a helpline staffed by trained experts.
"The ambulance trust takes any concerns about the health and wellbeing of its staff extremely seriously and will always offer support to those staff who may require any help."
Sam Older - regional organiser for trade union UNISON - also extended his thoughts to families, friends and colleagues of the three ambulance workers, adding: "While we don't want to speculate on the causes of these deaths, we recognise how important it is for staff to receive the mental health support they need at work, particularly in such a stressful and potentially traumatic job in the ambulance service.
"UNISON is pushing the ambulance trust to do more to look after the health and wellbeing of its staff, as a result of which employees now have access to a dedicated helpline with dedicated trauma therapists, and we will do everything we can to look after our members."
- If you need to talk to someone about what you're going through, you can call Samaritans any time, day or night, on 116 123.