Hertfordshire to pilot ambulance crew changes
CHANGES to ambulance crews – which will see less qualified support staff replacing clinically-trained workers – have been slammed as madness . The cost-cutting move will next month be rolled out around Hertfordshire, as part of a pilot scheme by the regi
CHANGES to ambulance crews - which will see less qualified support staff replacing clinically-trained workers - have been slammed as "madness".
The cost-cutting move will next month be rolled out around Hertfordshire, as part of a pilot scheme by the region's ambulance service.
Currently, ambulances are usually manned by a paramedic and emergency technician.
Under the new plans, one of these roles will be filled by a member of support staff.
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This will reduce staffing bills, as these workers are paid less, but it will also lessen the medical expertise on each ambulance.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps said it seemed "crazy" to introduce the scheme when vital services at the QE2 Hospital, in WGC, were being axed, meaning people wouldl have to travel to the Lister Hospital, in Stevenage.
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He said: "Everyone knows that removing services like A&E, maternity and all operations from the QE2 puts a question mark over safety because of the length of journey that will be required to get to the Lister.
"To combine this scale-back with a new system of fewer clinically trained ambulance staff sounds like madness."
Unison branch secretary Kevin Risley said the union supported the current position - where the assistants were used on support vehicles as a back-up or for non life-threatening emergencies - and of the proposed changes said: "We have got concerns.
"We don't think that is the right thing to do.
"It is dumbing down the clinical skills on the frontline ambulances.
"You have to wonder whether it is about saving money."
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said support workers would be given clinical training, to a national qualification standard, and they would also have full emergency driving skills.
He said: "We will be running a pilot scheme in Hertfordshire from April to ensure this change works well for staff and for patient care.
"Patient safety is of paramount importance and this initiative is planned to improve the overall quality of care.