Fit to work? Concern over contract paramedics sleeping in tents between shifts
Campsite all that ambulance crew can afford on £35-a-day allowance, says whistleblower
Contract ambulance staff in the east of England have been staying in tents between shifts because their employee allowance doesn't cover basic costs.
A whistleblower who spoke to the BBC said that staff from ERS Medical, a private company that provides ambulance workers for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, were staying at a campsite near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire because it was all they could afford on their £35-a-day expenses, which are meant to cover food and accommodation when staff work away from home.
Local Liberal Democrat MP Dr Julian Huppert said the situation was "alarming" and should prompt both the trust and the private contractor to review their procedures.
"Paramedics have a very tough job and the thought they might not be getting enough sleep to do their job well is worrying," he told The Independent. "The agency that employs them should be providing them with enough subsistence to stay somewhere appropriate, but this also highlights the fact that the ambulance service needs to have more staff and not rely on agencies."
ERS Medical told the BBC that the £35 allowance was "above the industry norm". Eyewitnesses at the Willows Campsite in Brampton reported seeing ambulance staff returning to their tents in the evening.
"A small number of our team decided to stay at the local campsite," ERS told the BBC. "We…specifically questioned our crews as to the suitability and have received unequivocal responses that say yes, it's a great site with appropriate facilities and that they enjoy good sleep and comfort."
However, Dr Dan Poulter, health minister and Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said that the trust should look "very seriously" at the situation.
A spokesperson for the NHS East of England Ambulance Trust said: "The quality of our service delivery is of upmost importance so before working in partnership with us, private ambulance organisations must undergo a thorough trust-accredited process and meet stringent criteria."
Life & Style blogs
Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
Health warning over 88,000 foreign doctors working in the NHS
Baby catches deadly meningitis infection from cat
Kim Jong-ale: How did Ushers brewery of Trowbridge end up in North Korea producing Pyongyang's number one beer - and what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...