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I am a paramedic on strike today. AMA

238 replies

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 16:29

Hi from the freezing cold picket line. Any questions related to the strike, the current state of the NHS or general paramedicing feel free to ask.

Disclaimer: obviously answers are based on my own opinions and experiences. They may not be the same for other paramedics/EMTs or in other trusts.

OP posts:
Reggiebo · 23/01/2023 17:17

No questions. Your all amazing. Sending hugs

blackpearwhitelilies · 23/01/2023 17:18

Thank you for everything you do. If I were PM paramedics would secure the highest salary in the land! What other job requires as much skill and is as traumatic and do we miss more, if it's not there?

VivX · 23/01/2023 17:19

I fully support the strike action (yours and everyone else's) and personally, I'd be willing to pay more in taxes to fund better pay and conditions for you and other public sector workers.

Itsrudemeghan · 23/01/2023 17:20

Fully support you

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:20

RosesAndHellebores · 23/01/2023 17:08

Would your job be easier if the call handlers were allowed to go off their standard questions and algorithms and exercise a bit more common sense. On the occasions I have had to call an ambulance recently, once personal and once professional, it has been like speaking to a brick wall vis computah sez.

I appreciate the role you do but I don't think striking is the answer.

It's a tough one, because it's really hard to assess a scene/patient over the phone and to some extent we do need to be risk averse. But yes, in some cases it would be good to have a bit more leeway.

As for how they sound on the phone I can't comment as I have never actually called an ambulance!

I respect your opinion on striking, but can you please suggest what the alternative might be?

OP posts:
ButterflyBitch · 23/01/2023 17:22

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:05

I've just answered that, but your question came in as I was typing.

We are providing life and limb cover which definitely includes heart attacks. And as our response times are actually better on a strike day, its actually not a bad day to have one!

Could totally see that working. The amount of time you must waste with numpties who’ve cut their finger must be quite frustrating

LadyGardenersQuestionTime · 23/01/2023 17:23

DH is a paramedic, 34 years in, he brings in about £3000/month after tax, pension etc. His pension will be about £20k pa. (Not striking in his union in our trust). We live in the expensive south east. (I am an ambulance volunteer and work in an nhs/social care setting.)

I find it odd the ambulance unions are asking for pay rises but haven’t set a negotiating figure. And I worry the focus on pay is distracting from the arguments about patient safety and service quality. But I absolutely agree it’s time to make a stand.

Its very very noticeable how much demand for ambulances has dropped since the first strike.

Seashantii · 23/01/2023 17:23

No questions just a massive thank you for all that you do! Full support from me.

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:24

4thonthe4th · 23/01/2023 17:00

I have 2 questions, sorry!

  1. How do you think a pay rise would help with one of the main (and long-standing) issues facing the ambulance service which is bed blocking? If so, how much do you think you’d need to help crews not be left sat outside A&E waiting for available beds.
  2. Are you responding to any calls at all today? Is your trust striking as one today or are you staggering stations so as still to provide cover?

A pay rise for us won't help with bed blocking, but it will hopefully pave the way for pay increases and better conditions in the social care sector which will in turn help.

I've answered pretty comprehensively about calls above, but yes we are all striking as one, but not everyone is on strike and those that are have agreed to leave the picket line for life or limb calls. I have personally attended one patient thus afternoon while on strike.

OP posts:
VittysCardigan · 23/01/2023 17:26

Just adding my support.

MushMonster · 23/01/2023 17:26

On an average month, how many hours of overtime you do?
Do you think that if all the current positions advertised were allocated you will be well staffed? Or under-staffed?

Do you and your colleagues have any ideas about what is needed to avoid ambulances been parked in the hospital for hours?

Best luck! And thanks for covering the priority services!

Toomanybirthdays · 23/01/2023 17:27

I fully support you all . I work as RN in NHS and I didn’t relise how low your pay is !
Bloody shocking considering that you and your colleagues literally do save lives ,many casualties would not get to A E without your expertise and knowledge.
Also you will have witnessed true life horror stories that the general public would not even be able to imagine .
I really hope that eventually you will all get the recognition you deserve 🙏

clarepetal · 23/01/2023 17:28

Totally support you. ❤️

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:28

Ineedwinenow · 23/01/2023 17:11

I fully support the strikes you do an amazing job with high burnout rates but I just have one question really that may have been asked or you may not know the answer, UK paramedics are one of the worlds highest earners in that role ( and well deserved ) as of 2021 so not obviously taking into account current inflation but where do the ambulance service unions want to extra funding to come from do you know have they said?

We already pay high taxes and the cost of living crisis is really hitting hard and the government don’t have money trees in their offices so where do they see the extra money coming from have they said?

As I said I fully support strikes ( your incredible to do that role) but nurses/ambulances and lots of other public sectors are going on strike I’m just worried we are going to end up paying more in taxes to accommodate all these rises as no one in charge of the unions have come out to say how it’s to be paid and I earn a lot less than you do in the private sector

good luck! I’ll bring hot drinks and snacks if I see picket lines 👍

Interesting question, and I'm afraid I don't know the answer. You can have a look at the Unison website for more information, but possibly the answer is that it's the government's job to work out how the budget is distributed?

WRT our salary compared to other countries, its worth baring in mind that not all countries paramedics have the skill level or scope of practice that we do. We are really only comparable with countries that practice as we do (US, Australia, NZ, Ireland, Poland for example)

OP posts:
ArseInTheDogBowl · 23/01/2023 17:29

I support you too OP.

I'm in a different bit of the public sector and won't pretend for a second it's as bad as what you've had to deal with but it's still bad. Working conditions are poor and subsequently, so is my mental health.

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:30

ButterflyBitch · 23/01/2023 17:22

Could totally see that working. The amount of time you must waste with numpties who’ve cut their finger must be quite frustrating

It is, but its also important to remember that there are often other factors at play when someone unnecessarily reaches for the 9s. And thinking about that helps.

OP posts:
dreamingbohemian · 23/01/2023 17:31

I have a question about triage, if that's ok?

You've said above and I've seen it many times on MN, that one of the biggest problems is people who don't really need ambulances are preventing people who really need care from getting it.

But why is this? Are the call handlers not good enough at triage? Are people lying? Should there be more categories of calls?

Same for A&E, people say that people with heart attacks aren't being treated because of people showing up with infected toenails, but surely that's a triage problem.

Would better training of 999 call handlers help?

4thonthe4th · 23/01/2023 17:31

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:24

A pay rise for us won't help with bed blocking, but it will hopefully pave the way for pay increases and better conditions in the social care sector which will in turn help.

I've answered pretty comprehensively about calls above, but yes we are all striking as one, but not everyone is on strike and those that are have agreed to leave the picket line for life or limb calls. I have personally attended one patient thus afternoon while on strike.

Thank you for answering. I did see you’d already covered my 2nd question with your previous responses. Your first response makes a lot of sense, thank you.

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:33

LadyGardenersQuestionTime · 23/01/2023 17:23

DH is a paramedic, 34 years in, he brings in about £3000/month after tax, pension etc. His pension will be about £20k pa. (Not striking in his union in our trust). We live in the expensive south east. (I am an ambulance volunteer and work in an nhs/social care setting.)

I find it odd the ambulance unions are asking for pay rises but haven’t set a negotiating figure. And I worry the focus on pay is distracting from the arguments about patient safety and service quality. But I absolutely agree it’s time to make a stand.

Its very very noticeable how much demand for ambulances has dropped since the first strike.

I can't comment on why the unions haven't fixes a set amount- perhaps because we don't know what the inflation rates will be until April? I'm just speculating though, I've not got myself fully immersed in the politics of it all- other colleagues know a lot more than me.

I agree about the call rates, its amazing how many people realise they have another option when they think thay won't get an ambulance...

OP posts:
ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:35

MushMonster · 23/01/2023 17:26

On an average month, how many hours of overtime you do?
Do you think that if all the current positions advertised were allocated you will be well staffed? Or under-staffed?

Do you and your colleagues have any ideas about what is needed to avoid ambulances been parked in the hospital for hours?

Best luck! And thanks for covering the priority services!

I do 3 12 hour shifts of OT a month, otherwise I'd have nothing after bills and food. I also do probably around 20hours of what we call incidental overtime, ie still working after the shift has finished.

The social care sector needs to be vastly improved so that bed blocking is reduced.

OP posts:
MushMonster · 23/01/2023 17:37

That is a lot of hours indeed! Under-staffing seems to be at play, what a surprise!

Mistletoewench · 23/01/2023 17:37

Thank you for all you do x

iloveeverykindofcat · 23/01/2023 17:38

No question just support. A paramedic saved my life once, by giving me CPR after a very freak accident. (I'm completely fine, this was years ago. Actually I was completely fine quite shortly afterwards, just the position of the accident meant my oxygen got temporarily cut off). All the doctors expertise would have been for nothing without a first responder.

tara66 · 23/01/2023 17:38

Not saying you don't do a great job but is NHS broken- in your opinion and needs to change a lot? Should people pay something for their NHS treatment and care - as with the French system - people are mostly reimbursed for health treatment by the state after they have paid a ''reasonable'' amount? Private in Uk is very expensive if one is not insured through work. I once paid £250 just for one appointment for doctor to remove a plaster - plus all the other fees incurred. I went privately because of NHS long waiting time to see a dermatologist (re. skin cancer). About half national budget already goes to NHS and a great deal of that actually goes to legal matters. My local hospital in London is an old wreck - with porta cabins being used permanently. It needs to be rebuilt. Taxes in Britain are now the highest since 1950s. There is a cartoon showing a man lying down and beside him all the paper work his medical appointment needed - which was wider and longer than him! It is meant to show there is too much administration in NHS. Also - know someone from a black listed state that got a job as doctor in UK but that person is not allowed to work in UAE or Qatar (where he preferred !) . It all needs fixing.

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:41

dreamingbohemian · 23/01/2023 17:31

I have a question about triage, if that's ok?

You've said above and I've seen it many times on MN, that one of the biggest problems is people who don't really need ambulances are preventing people who really need care from getting it.

But why is this? Are the call handlers not good enough at triage? Are people lying? Should there be more categories of calls?

Same for A&E, people say that people with heart attacks aren't being treated because of people showing up with infected toenails, but surely that's a triage problem.

Would better training of 999 call handlers help?

Lots of reasons:
It's very difficult to triage over the phone, even for a clinician. The call handlers have to follow an algorithm which directs which questions they ask and leads to the categorisation of the call. Some people are called back and reassessed by a paramedic or doctor over the phone, but this isn't appropriate in calls that may be time critical such as chest pain.

The caller may be panicked, there may be a language barrier or, yes some over exaggeration (although I don't think that's common)

And sometimes, it's a case of "ok, you don't really NEED an ambulance, but now that we know about you, its safer to send one than not"

The call handlers are very highly trained. The public could possibly do with a bit more education though.

OP posts:
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