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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
January 15, 2019

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Paramedics lose 50,000 working days to stress, figures reveal

Ambulance paramedics in England lost more than 50,000 working days to stress last year, according to official figures.

London AmbulanceAccording to information recently released by NHS Data, stress-related sickness absence accounted for one in five (20.8%) of all the working days lost for all reasons among all ambulance trusts in England between July 2017 and June 2018.

The figures show 50,031 working days were lost due to stress across all the ambulance trusts, compared to a total of 240,589 working days lost for all reasons.

One trust – the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust – lost 7,671 working days to stress, while the East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust lost 6,919 days.

In the case of the East Midlands trust, this represents almost a third (29.72%) of all the days lost (23,276).

In addition, the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust lost 2,944 working days to stress, which represented almost a quarter (24.62%) of the total number lost during this time period.

Commenting on the figures, the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trusts’s Director of Strategy, Transformation and Workforce, Caroline Thurlbeck, said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is of the utmost importance to us. Our absence rates are reflective of the physical and mental demands placed on our hard-working staff on a daily basis.

“We promote an open and honest culture within the Trust and encourage our staff to recognise and report mental health conditions so we can offer them the support they need.

“Our frontline managers operate a debriefing system to ensure frontline employees are given support immediately after a difficult incident. We also have an in-house occupational health team who support our employees and signpost them to appropriate services such as physiotherapists, doctors, clinical psychologists and other counselling services. We also work closely with Mind Blue Light partners and have established a group of Blue Light Champions within the Trust who have received training to support their peers.

“In our last published NHS staff survey, most of our staff who responded believed that the Trust takes positive action on health and wellbeing.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Ambulance staff work incredibly hard in a high-pressure environment and as the Long-Term Plan sets out, we are supporting them through faster access to mental health and physiotherapy services.

“We are committed to improving staff wellbeing and with record numbers of staff working in the sector, it is positive to see the proportion of ambulance staff absence rates lowering every year for the past five years.”

The full NHS Data set on stress-related sickness days among paramedics is available to read here.

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