East of England Ambulance Service launches investigation into harassment and bullying

PUBLISHED: 17:00 29 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:39 02 December 2019

There have been three deaths at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust this month. Picture: Casey Gutteridge.

There have been three deaths at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust this month. Picture: Casey Gutteridge.

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The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust has launched an independent investigation into harassment and bullying, after three ambulance workers died in the space of 10 days.

Paramedic Christopher Gill died at Birch Court in Welwyn Garden City on November 15. Picture: Google Street ViewParamedic Christopher Gill died at Birch Court in Welwyn Garden City on November 15. Picture: Google Street View

Christopher Gill, 41, died at Birch Court in Howlands, Welwyn Garden City, 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 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."

The BBC says an independent investigation will be led by Martin Tiplady, a former human resources director at the Metropolitan Police.

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When asked for a response, the ambulance trust told this newspaper that it "takes all allegations of harassment and bullying extremely seriously".

The ambulance trust spokesperson also said: "Through our values as an organisation, we encourage a working environment of openness and honesty that embraces staff, volunteers and external partners.

"We listen to concerns expressed by staff and learn from and share our experiences.

"In line with our whistleblowing policy and NHS national guidelines we can confirm that following concerns raised by some staff members we immediately commissioned an independent investigation into these claims.

"We are keeping NHS England and NHS Improvement up to date with progress."

Dr Tom Davis, EEAST medical director, said: "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."

Yasmin Rafiq, the EEAST interim director of people and culture, has also decided to step down due to her contract being up in November.

- 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.

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