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Harm to patients ‘normalised’ as ‘burned-out’ paramedics work without breaks, care watchdog warns

Harm to patients has become “normalised” as burned-out paramedics are working without breaks, the national care watchdog has warned.

Concerns over the pressures on staff at South East Coast Ambulance Service have been raised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Senior staff told the CQC that patients were being adversely affected by ambulance delays but it was now being seen as “part of the culture”.

The CQC found pressures on staff within the South East Coast Ambulance Service, such as long waits outside of the emergency department, had led to low morale and staff feeling they were not valued.

It said: “Staff described feeling frustrated and burnout and that senior leaders did not understand or respond to the challenges or concerns they raised. Some local senior managers described that harm to patients, caused by delays in reaching them, had become normalised as a culture.”

“At times there were many outstanding category 3 [urgent] patients awaiting an ambulance or assessment by a paramedic practitioner. At busy times, these patients waited for extended lengths of time for crews and callbacks. Therefore, this group of patients were at risk of deterioration whilst they were waiting for a response.”

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Source: The Independent, 26 October 2022


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