The strength of feeling among operational ambulance staff that has been made evident by the Edmund Daly case has been polarising. It is painfully clear that the precedent the case sets applies further intolerable pressure on front line clinicians and that it desperately needed to be addressed.
Annelies van Wamel and I have discussed the many options, whom to approach and what to steps to take next. We had one overriding tenet - we need to approach the problem positively and professionally. As paramedics, it is vital that we seek unity and work toward a resolution in a manner befitting our station. There is little to be gained from vilifying individuals or trying to kick down fortified doors and there is far more to be gained by getting appropriate organisations and individuals on side. Although many intense emotions are shared by us, we feel that the best results can be obtained by playing the game by the rules given and change them in the process to our benefit.
Letter to the College of Paramedics
Already, our efforts have borne some fruit. A letter, written by Annelies, was sent to the Chair of the College of Paramedics (CoP), Professor Andy Newton, last Monday (see image to the right for the full letter). Today, the Executive Director of the CoP, Gerry Egan, contacted Annelies to have a chat about the letter and its contents.
Encouragingly, the overall message was a supportive and positive one; the letter was deemed appropriate and relevant to the profession and, consequently, to the CoP. As a result of the nature of the CoP (they are not a trade union therefore they cannot represent or intervene in individual cases like Ed Daly’s), they are seeking other ways to influence employers. Gerry mentioned the difference in fatigue management between Scottish and English Ambulance Trusts. Although we have not seen it, there seems to be a Fatigue Policy in Scotland which is applied when [on-call] staff are run beyond their capabilities (view the Scottish Fatigue policy document here). It was developed to distinguish between ‘sickness’ and fatigue and has driven down sickness levels among Scottish Ambulance staff since. It would be very helpful if a reader of this blog with access to that policy could forward it to us!
The CoP is actively seeking to get a copy of this policy and, after scrutiny, potentially include it in its newly established Library of Best Practice Documents. In its desire to help influence the working conditions for paramedics, the CoP has also sought contact with Unison.
Although it is still early stages and the CoP has not been able to issue clear guidance or advice just yet, we think this is a positive step and we will be following it up in the next few weeks.
We have also been in contact with various other parties, including the LAS, so it is clear that our concerns are far-reaching and noted. I am hoping to arrange an audience with many of those parties in order to gain more clarity and further our cause.
We will continue to push forward and keep everyone updated on any new developments. Thank you all for your continued support.