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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:
Sugargliderwombat · 23/01/2023 18:10

SweetPeaPods · 23/01/2023 18:07

Thank you for everything you do however are you aware of the full knock on effect of these strikes?
Currently 41weeks pregnant and local birth centre (and place of choice) has closed due to these strikes causing a lot of unnecessary stress.

My local birth Centre closed loads around when I was due (not during strike times), the causes of the birth centre being overwhelmed are why people are striking, surely ?



OP, my midwife told me she thinks "the beast is too big" when talking about the NHS. Do you think it can be fixed now ?

roarfeckingroarr · 23/01/2023 18:11

OP it's not that I don't support you, but I don't think £40k per month is a low wage. Given the state of the economy and demands for double digit % pay rises across the health service and education, where do you think the money should come from to fund all these increases? Higher taxes?

4thonthe4th · 23/01/2023 18:12

MadeOfSteel · 23/01/2023 18:05

I thank my lucky stars that we have well trained paramedics and ambulance technicians nowadays; the work you do means more people will make it to the hospital alive and you increase their chance of survival. I recall the days when ambulance drivers used to just pick people up and rush them to the hospital and that was it! I fully support the strikes and am grateful that there are people prepared to lose pay in order to highlight the current situation, for staff and patients.

If we want to attract more people into your job, OP, and all the other medical posts, I believe the T&Cs need to be more attractive. I wonder if part of the reason for the slump in numbers of people going to university to train is to do with the government introducing tuition fees. Have you heard anything about that, OP?

I always thought the paramedic degree was introduced after the NHS bursary ended. I could well be wrong.
The paramedic degree entry route wasn’t always there; you used to have to start as a technician, now ECA, and work your way up and do in house paramedic exams. It hasn’t always been a degree.

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:14

Pipsquiggle · 23/01/2023 18:01

Thanks for all you do and good luck on the strike.

Are all the ambulance queues -trying to drop people off at A&E - the result of years of under funding in social care and bed blocking?

No spare beds in A&E due to no spare beds on the wards due to not enough social care provision

Yes, exactly that. Carers need to be paid more and treated better so that the sector can recruit more staff, which will speed up hospital discharges.

OP posts:
Howmanysleepsnow · 23/01/2023 18:14

I work in care, and am relieved to say we had a very fast paramedic response to a call this morning.

no questions.

QuebecBagnet · 23/01/2023 18:14

Do you think 111 is making the life of a paramedic harder as I’ve had more than one occasion where they try to insist an ambulance is needed when I o don’t think it did.

totally agree the conditions and workload seem terrible. I assume it’s a retention issue with staffing rather than recruitment as no end apply for training

I work at a university and we struggle to recruit paramedic lecturers as the qualified paramedics say lecturing doesn’t pay enough to do. So do you think if conditions were improved that would help? Ie more staff. Even if pay wasn’t increased. Are they actually leaving because 50k isn’t enough or because they’re burnt out?

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:16

Faz469 · 23/01/2023 18:03

Solidarity from a nurse who's getting married to an emt. Us blues are 100% behind you guys in green. If I wasn't pregnant I'd be out there tonight supporting you all on the pickets dropping off hot drinks and snacks! Good luck x

We are 100% with you too. My mum is an A&E sister. And my best friend is a former ITU nurse and now a transplant nurse.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, enjoy you mat leave (one of the few perks for us is we have a really good mat leave allowance, I hope it's the same in your trust!)

OP posts:
MadeOfSteel · 23/01/2023 18:19

@4thonthe4th I was thinking not just of Paramedic Science, but all the other medical subjects, eg physiotherapy, nursing, midwifery and so on.

Lj8893 · 23/01/2023 18:20

Thankyou for all you do. I’m standing in solidarity with you today as a midwife who has met many amazing paramedics.

OrlandointheWilderness · 23/01/2023 18:20

Wanted to send you a message of support from a student nurse.

disneyprincess87 · 23/01/2023 18:22

Fully support you all xx

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:24

MadeOfSteel · 23/01/2023 18:05

I thank my lucky stars that we have well trained paramedics and ambulance technicians nowadays; the work you do means more people will make it to the hospital alive and you increase their chance of survival. I recall the days when ambulance drivers used to just pick people up and rush them to the hospital and that was it! I fully support the strikes and am grateful that there are people prepared to lose pay in order to highlight the current situation, for staff and patients.

If we want to attract more people into your job, OP, and all the other medical posts, I believe the T&Cs need to be more attractive. I wonder if part of the reason for the slump in numbers of people going to university to train is to do with the government introducing tuition fees. Have you heard anything about that, OP?

My dad was an ambulance man back in those days! The job grew with him in many ways, he was the first paramedic in his trust back when they only gave about 2 drugs right through to when he retired in 2016 with all we do now.

A lot of people still seem to come through the university courses- however you can also train in house by becoming an EMT and then doing a paramedic course. That's what I did and I've seen many a student's face fall when they realise that not only did I not pay tuition fees, I was employed and paid from the first day of my EMT course.

Staff retention is a much bigger problem than initial recruitment.

OP posts:
ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:29

SweetPeaPods · 23/01/2023 18:07

Thank you for everything you do however are you aware of the full knock on effect of these strikes?
Currently 41weeks pregnant and local birth centre (and place of choice) has closed due to these strikes causing a lot of unnecessary stress.

I don't think a birth centre would close because of an ambulance strike as birth generally doesn't require an ambulance- unless you mean in case you need an emergency transfer to a consultant lead unit, so everyone has to go there? In which case, I'm sorry that you might not get the birth experience you wanted, but you and baby will still be kept safe, which is the important thing. I'm afraid that causing you inconvenience doesn't affect my decision to strike, no.

Congratulations and best of luck. I genuinely hope you do get to the birth centre.

OP posts:
ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:30

Sausagedognamedmash · 23/01/2023 18:09

So much respect for ambulance workers. My grandad would have died years before he did had it not been for the multiple call outs to him over the years.

I worked in HR for a 111 triage line a couple of years ago and the training the call handlers go through is incredibly extensive. However they have to follow the script based on what you tell them to ensure the important questions are asked and nothing is missed. This can mean ambulances being sent to those that don't necessarily need them because it wouldn't be safe based on your answers to not do so. However triaging over the phone is incredibly hard, especially when people are scared or bring abusive, and when they too are chronically understaffed, the burn out is massive.

Thank you for all you do.

I agree and let's face it, as much as we moan, I'd rather 111 be risk averse than miss a pateint who really needs an ambulance.

OP posts:
ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:32

Sugargliderwombat · 23/01/2023 18:10

My local birth Centre closed loads around when I was due (not during strike times), the causes of the birth centre being overwhelmed are why people are striking, surely ?



OP, my midwife told me she thinks "the beast is too big" when talking about the NHS. Do you think it can be fixed now ?

Even hospital maternity units sometimes have to divert elsewhere. Those pesky babies, they never come at a convenient time 😜

I genuinely don't know. But I know that together we have to try.

OP posts:
dreamingbohemian · 23/01/2023 18:34

Thanks for answering my question OP. I'm still a bit confused though after reading this comment from @whatyoulookingfor :

If people used common sense and stopped calling ambulances because on a Sunday they suddenly decided that their 6 week old cough might be a problem (clue: if it's 6 weeks old and hasn't dramatically changed it can probably wait another 24 hours) then we wouldn't be so swamped and the algorithms would probably be fine. However instead we end up going out to the worried we'll or people who should access care more appropriately elsewhere

* So basically, if someone calls with a six-week-old cough, they get an ambulance no matter what? It's not possible to tell them it's not serious enough, they need to go to the GP?
And, if a call handler can't tell whether they need an ambulance or not, how are untrained normal people supposed to know?

I'm not trying to be critical in any way, it's just something I'm really curious about. Do algorithms actually help or are they making it worse?

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:35

roarfeckingroarr · 23/01/2023 18:11

OP it's not that I don't support you, but I don't think £40k per month is a low wage. Given the state of the economy and demands for double digit % pay rises across the health service and education, where do you think the money should come from to fund all these increases? Higher taxes?

No one is saying it's a low wage, I'd say it's mid range. However, it's not in line with inflation and my cost of living is going up whereas my wages are not.

I am not qualified to give an answer about where the money should come from. I do think perhaps not giving MPs an 11% yearly pay rise and an unlimited budget to do up their free houses might be a starting point though.

OP posts:
ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:38

4thonthe4th · 23/01/2023 18:12

I always thought the paramedic degree was introduced after the NHS bursary ended. I could well be wrong.
The paramedic degree entry route wasn’t always there; you used to have to start as a technician, now ECA, and work your way up and do in house paramedic exams. It hasn’t always been a degree.

I don't think the paramedic degree ever had the bursaries, no. They were around when I was at uni though (a non medical degree), back when tuition was only 1500 a year!

My trust's current in house course is actually a degree course too, so you'd be mad to go straight to uni. I don't think a lot of students realise it's an option though.

OP posts:
mrsdeee · 23/01/2023 18:38

Huge fist bump from a fellow paramedic here! After 15 years on the frontline I am now in primary care but absolutely standing with you all today!

Mariposa26 · 23/01/2023 18:41

Just wanted to send solidarity like others. I work in HR in the private sector and seeing the salaries every day genuinely makes me wonder how we will retain people in crucial jobs like yours and encourage new entrants into the professions when the pay is so so much lower than what you could get elsewhere for a much less taxing (in my opinion) job. Thanks for all you do and hope you succeed.

ofwarren · 23/01/2023 18:42

Solidarity from me too!
I nipped over to our local picket with the cakes this morning. Everyone seemed in good spirits and the constant beeps of support from the traffic going past was lovely to hear.
Good luck 👍

kelpie9 · 23/01/2023 18:44

I don't believe strikes achieve anything.

Can I ask if you find it difficult to manage on your wage how are you going to manage without pay for the days you stike?

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:45

QuebecBagnet · 23/01/2023 18:14

Do you think 111 is making the life of a paramedic harder as I’ve had more than one occasion where they try to insist an ambulance is needed when I o don’t think it did.

totally agree the conditions and workload seem terrible. I assume it’s a retention issue with staffing rather than recruitment as no end apply for training

I work at a university and we struggle to recruit paramedic lecturers as the qualified paramedics say lecturing doesn’t pay enough to do. So do you think if conditions were improved that would help? Ie more staff. Even if pay wasn’t increased. Are they actually leaving because 50k isn’t enough or because they’re burnt out?

Simular to our own call taking, 111 call handlers have to follow a set algorithm. The system is very risk averse. It can be frustrating to arrive at a call that a GP can deal with and have to call 111 ourselves to arrange for the patient to see a GP which is all they wanted in the first place!

However, we only see the calls we go to, if you see what I mean, we don't see the thousands of patients that 111 deal with that don't get an ambulance. It's helpful to remind myself of that.

On balance, I don't mind the 111 system being risk averse. I'd rather that than miss someone who actually needs life saving intervention.

People are leaving because of burnout far more than because of pay. They are being offered attractive roles elsewhere and there isn't much incentive to keep them from taking those roles.

OP posts:
Mummyme87 · 23/01/2023 18:46

midwife here! I stand with all paramedics and nurses striking.

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:47

mrsdeee · 23/01/2023 18:38

Huge fist bump from a fellow paramedic here! After 15 years on the frontline I am now in primary care but absolutely standing with you all today!

Quitter 😜🥰

OP posts:
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