Ambulance workers sleep in tents in between shifts
- Credit: Archant
CONCERNS have been raised after it emerged that six paramedics covering for the East of England Ambulance Service have been sleeping in tents on a Cambridgeshire campsite in between shifts.
A union says it fears for patient safety after hearing that workers from a private ambulance firm were camping rather than using a local hotel or bed and breakfast.
Staff from ERS Medical have been using The Willows campsite in Brampton, near Huntingdon when travelling out of their area for work.
The company, which has a contract with the East of England Ambulance Service, EEAS, defended the decision because that was all they could afford on their £35 a day accommodation allowance in addition to their wage of £10.50 per hour.
Officials from the GMB union called for the private firm to make alternative accommodation arrangements or employ more workers in the local area.
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Tony Hughes, GMB organiser for ambulance staff, said the issue highlighted overreliance on private contractors.
“Staff staying in a field is not really ideal.
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“There are hygiene and infection issues and change of uniform issues. It raises lots of questions. The last thing you want are people coming to your aid who are exhausted,” he said.
ERS Medical, which has bases across the region, insisted that its staff were happy with the arrangement.
A spokesman said: “We always provide suitable financial support to ensure that all crews have sufficient rest between shifts. We have specifically questioned our crews as to the suitability of the campsite and have received unequivocal responses that say it’s a great site with appropriate facilities and that they enjoy good sleep and comfort.”
A spokesman for the 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.”