• STV
  • MySTV

Ambulance service in 'critical condition', warns union

Unison found ambulance staff are overworked and stressed, with many thinking of leaving the service.

Ambulance: Majority of staff have been abused while working (file pic).
Ambulance: Majority of staff have been abused while working (file pic). Scottish Ambulance Service

The ambulance service is in a "critical condition", with staff at breaking point, a new report has warned.

Research by Unison found ambulance staff are overworked and highly stressed, with many thinking of leaving the service.

Many workers have experienced violence and abuse, with six in ten saying they have suffered physical and/or verbal abuse at work, and three-quarters of women saying they have experienced it.

Almost all (98%) paramedics have experienced violence and/or abuse while working while 40% of patient transport staff have suffered it.

The union warned a lack of staff and resources is putting patients' health and, in some cases, lives at risk, and is also having an impact on the health and wellbeing of ambulance staff.

David O'Connor, Unison regional organiser, said: "This report reveals the immense pressure facing Scotland's ambulance staff. It shows a dedicated workforce who are working hard to support the public under enormous pressure.

"They feel exhausted, undervalued and suffer violence regularly. They are struggling to deal with the demands placed upon them. The service is already in critical condition with ambulance staff at breaking point and demand is continuing to grow.

"We need urgent action to increase funding and resources in order to deliver the high quality of care our patients rely on and deserve."

The survey found that, despite an increase in funding and staff numbers over the past five years, demand has increased far beyond those resources.

It also found demand is increasing by 4% per year, the equivalent of an extra 24,000 calls, but staffing levels are still too low to meet the increasing demand.

'Staff are struggling to keep up with the demands placed upon them and it's not just the staff that suffer, it's patients too'
Stevie Gilroy, Unison Scottish Ambulance Service

More than eight in ten ambulance staff (86%) overall reported that their workloads are heavier, rising to 98% among paramedics.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents describe morale as poor or very poor while 25% rate their job as ten on a 1-10 stress scale.

Meanwhile four in ten workers often think about leaving the service, rising to 47% among paramedics.

Stevie Gilroy, Unison Scottish Ambulance Service branch secretary, said: "This report sends a stark warning to the Scottish Ambulance Service. Staff are struggling to keep up with the demands placed upon them and it's not just the staff that suffer, it's patients too.

"We're already at crisis point and we need urgent action to protect this vital service."

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "Our staff do a fantastic job each and every day in Scotland's communities caring for patients and saving lives.

"Given how hard they work, and the situations they face, we recognise it can also be a stressful job, which is why we have a wide range of support mechanisms available to them and long-standing arrangements in place to ensure we balance their needs and wellbeing.

"With an expanding, ageing population, demand for ambulance services across the UK continues to grow but we are at the forefront of building our capacity so that we can continue to meet this demand, the needs of patients and our staff."

Scottish Labour said the report was "deeply troubling".

Health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: "It's simply unacceptable that we face a situation where almost half of paramedics say they often think about leaving the service because they don't have the support they need.

"We urgently need to invest in the Scottish Ambulance Service to keep up with demand and ensure that staff have the equipment and resources they need to do their jobs."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.