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Found 30 results
  1. News Article
    The number of paramedics taking time off with mental health conditions has almost tripled over the last decade, a Guardian analysis has found. In 2019, paramedics took 52,040 days off due to anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses, up from 18,184 in 2011 – an increase of 186%. While the overall number of paramedics has increased slightly over the period, the rate of mental health leave has increased more, resulting in the average number of days taken off per paramedic in a year rising from 2.8 to 5.8. Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said: “Crisis-level staffing has increasingly become the norm within the NHS in recent years, even before the pandemic. Working long hours without breaks, in demanding conditions, it’s no wonder it’s taken a toll on the mental health of workers across the health service. And the coronavirus challenges have piled on more pressure.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 July 2020
  2. Content Article
    I don’t ‘do’ mental health. Growing up, my family always had a stiff upper lip, told me to "take a breath and get on with it". It was seen very much as a weakness. If I was ever feeling upset about something that had happened at work, they would always retort back with a story far more gruesome and awful than mine. My family are all healthcare professionals. Dinner table talk usually turned to horror stories of car crashes, attempted murders, limbs falling off, wounds and cardiac arrests. Very interesting and often led to great discussions, but didn’t explore how we felt about being involved in the worst days of other peoples' lives. My family spoke of these incidents as if they were viewing through glass, an invisible wall. They distanced themselves. This is how they dealt with the horror of healthcare. From their behaviour and how they dealt with ‘work’, I followed suit. It seemed to work. Something bad would happen – a traumatic cardiac arrest at the roadside, a stabbing of a young man, a four car pile up with three dead at the scene, a murdered child – I would then go back to my family home on days off, have dinner and we would swap stories. We would all try and out do each other, a bit like a game of gruesome top trumps. But I could not brush off what I had seen. I saw the trauma that was inflicted on survivors, the pain people had been through, the raw emotions from other during the worst day of their lives, the conditions people lived in. I was seeing this daily, not once a month or once a year, daily. It was bound to take its toll. All was going well, or so I thought. Until my life got in the way. I have two boys: 13 and 11 years old. Starting out in the world. I have been able to keep them safe; I keep them away from these horrors I see. I have protected them from the society we live in. The knife crime, the drugs, the violence, but as they grow up they have become more independent. They want to go out alone, they mix with other groups of kids I don’t know. No longer can I call the parents of a child I deem ‘suitable’ for a play date. I am relying on my children to make the right choices. I felt out of control. Whereas at work, I am in control. I may not have control about which job I go to, but I have control on how I manage the patient, I have drugs to ease pain and can give immediate treatment. I feel as if I am in a ‘bubble of professionalism’. What happens at work, stays at work (or my parent's dinner table). But here in the real world, there is no bubble. I tried bringing my feelings about the loss of control and fear around bringing up boys in 2020 at the dinner table. "That’s life," announced my dad. "We got through it and you're OK," said mum. And that was that. My feelings were deemed as mundane, not good enough to discuss. Before I knew it, the conversation had moved on to a patient who needed helicoptering off a rugby field with a broken leg. I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t concentrate. I had this weird pain in my chest. All I could think of was the safety of my boys. I replayed scenarios of them getting run over, getting into a fight and getting stabbed, being involved in a car crash. I wouldn’t go on unnecessary journeys in case we crashed and they died. I was just about coping with work. I did not have the capacity to take stress from any other angle. So, when I needed to step up to the plate at home, bringing up kids, it was all too much. Getting help I made an appointment with a GP. I’m never ill, so don’t see a regular one. Any GP would do. I wanted some help, but wasn’t sure what help was available. I felt embarrassed about going. I didn’t tell anyone. Once I was in there, I just burst into tears. I’ve seen GPs behind closed doors, people do it all the time. I bet they get sick of it. I was now one ‘of those’ people. She heard my symptoms; she heard the causes. With that she wrote a prescription for Sertraline (a drug for anxiety) and an offer to sign me off sick for 2 weeks and I was out the door with a follow up in 3 weeks. Looks like I am labelled now, and it took less than 10 minutes. Were pills the answer? Surely there are other therapies I could try? I don’t want time off. It won't make it better. After opening up to a colleague at work, it seems myself and my family are suffering with moral injury. The term ‘moral injury’ has been used to describe the psychological effects of ‘bearing witness to the aftermath of violence and human carnage’ (Litz et al., 2009[1]). Carnage sounds like a normal shift to me. The symptoms of moral injury are strongly linked to feelings of guilt and shame and can manifest as social isolation and emotional numbing. This was my mechanism for coping with the stress at work. Numbing the emotions, not allowing my emotions to show themselves in fear that I would not be able to do my job. I’m no good to anyone being a blubbering wreck am I, everyone else is OK, so I must hold it together. Binned the pills I was told about ‘talking therapies’ that my employer can refer me to – for free. I went to my line manager. We spoke at length about how I felt, and she referred me to the talking therapy provided by my Trust. While I waited for the appointment date, I opened up to friends. Found out I am not alone. Seems we are all struggling in different ways. Being able to speak freely with a trained counsellor has really helped. I have strategies to help me with anxiety and stress, I have started the NHS couch to 5K and have started to feel so much better. I have not taken the pills offered by the GP. I’m sure some people need them; I feel I don’t need them at the moment. We know that we need to have more and better conversations about our mental wellbeing, and it is worth thinking about what kinds of conversations might be useful; certainly a game of top trauma trumps isn’t a good idea while eating sausage and mash. It is true what the literature suggests, that paramedics are suffering from increasing rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Regehr et al., 2002[2]), but it is also true that not all those who are psychologically affected by their work, even in lasting ways, will reach the threshold for a diagnosis of PTSD. Some people will become ill as a result of their work, and some will become distressed; moral injury offers a different way of thinking about the psychological harms that may result from the practice of prehospital and emergency medicine (Murray, 2019[3]). This may give paramedics and other ambulance staff the opportunity to think about the impacts of their work in ways which do not threaten their ability to do it. Ensuring there are opportunities to sit down and talk through their jobs in the course of a working day, or night, could be the best place to start (Murray, 2019[3]). References 1. Litz BT, Stain N, Delaney E et al. Moral injury and moral repair in war veterans: a preliminary model and intervention strategy. Clin Psychol Rev 2009;29(8):695–706. 2. Regehr C, Goldberg G, Hughes J. Exposure to human tragedy, empathy and trauma in ambulance paramedics. Am J Orthopsychiatr 2002;72(4):505–13 3. Murray E . Moral injury and paramedic practice. Journal of Paramedic Practice 2019;1(10).
  3. Content Article
    About the author Jo Mildenhall is a Doctoral Research Student at Manchester Metropolitan University; and Paramedic Team Leader, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Newbury Ambulance Station.
  4. Content Article
    The PRSB have collaborated with the Royal College of Physicians Health Informatics Unit on this project. Clinical leadership was provided by clinicians from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the College of Paramedics (CoP). The standard has been developed with the support of professionals and patients. This resource includes: The standard Information model Information model (as Excel spreadsheet) Documentation Ambulance handover standard final report v1.0 Implementation guidance v1.0 Clinical Safety Case Report v0.3 - Currently being approved through the NHS Digital Clinical Safety Group Hazard log v0.7
  5. Content Article
    Did you known that once a paramedic hands over the care of their patient to the hospital they don't tend to learn how beneficial their treatments were or how accurate their diagnosis was? As you can imagine this makes continually improving in order to provide the best possible healthcare to patients very challenging. The Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH), East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) are working together to change that. With support from the Health Research Authority's Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG) and under the supervision of the PAH Patient Panel, they have started a new project which allows the ambulance and air ambulance staff who look after a patient to find out relevant and proportional information. This will help with lifelong learning and reflection, seen as vital to learning by both the General Medical Council who oversee doctors and the Health and Care Professions Council who oversee ambulance staff.
  6. Content Article
    I work in, both, the work imagined and prescribed, but practice in the world of work done. It’s interesting working in both worlds and has made me ask these questions: Why this happens? What are the consequences? How can we manage this disconnect? Real-life scenario What happened? A patient on a ward needs a nasogastric tube (NGT) for feeding and giving medication due to an impaired swallow following head and neck surgery. The nurse prints off the policy for placing an NGT from the Trust's infonet. The nurse inserts the NGT and checks the policy on how to test if it is in the correct position. The tube could be in the stomach (the right place) or it could be placed in the lungs (not a great place for medicines and feed to go!). The nurse calls the nurse in charge for support. It’s been a long time since she has placed an NGT and she wants to check she iss doing the right thing. The senior nurse arrives, before the feed is commenced. The senior nurse notices that the policy that the nurse is using is out of date. Checking the position of NGTs had changed. The senior nurse prints out the updated policy – NGT was in the correct position. This was a near miss event. So what? If an NGT is in the lung and you give medication and liquid feed there is a high chance the patient would contract fatal pneumonia at worst or a protracted stay on the intensive care unit on a ventilator at best. In both these cases, it would need to be declared to the regulators as they are classed as serious incidents. What next? This incident was one of many near misses that were collected over four shifts. This incident was discussed with the Deputy Chief of safety within that Trust. His first reaction was: "When was this? We had a Datix last year of the same incident – why has this happened again and why don’t I know?" It was true, there were a few similar incidents last year and an action plan was put in place to mitigate another incident like this happening again. All the old policies were to be removed from the infonet and replaced with the updated versions. Not only this, the Trust was now moving towards a web-based search facility that enables the clinician to have all the updated evidence for policies, antibiotic therapies, prompt charts, documentation and prescribing advice. The guide would be updated and the old policies would automatically be replaced, thus mitigating clinicians using out of date policies and procedures. The document management system was put in place to ensure it is easier to do the right thing. So, if this forcible function was in place, how did this incident happen again? Not all staff know about the new document system. Some nurses think this search facility is for doctors only. Nurses are prohibited to use their mobile phones on the ward. Clinicians not always able to get to a computer. It takes too long to update when opening the browser – therefore people are using it offline. The final point is an interesting one. Making it easy to do the right thing is one of a number of aspects that a safe system is comprised of; however, if part of that system i.e. the Wifi is not set up to support the change, that system is at risk of a ‘work around’. Work arounds are what healthcare staff do to enable them to get through that shift without immediate detriment to themselves or the patient, make swift complex decisions easily and to ‘tick the box’. Time is a precious commodity, especially when you are a frontline worker. We know the document management system will have the updated policy; we wait for the download. We wait. We wait a bit longer. Eventually it loads. Remembering it takes a long time, we save it and use it ‘offline’ for future access. By using the guide offline makes it quick and easy. We are using Trust policy; however, that policy may now be out of date. So what? Implementation of this online guide was made to make our lives easier and safer for patients and ourselves. Due to an oversight of how clinicians ‘actually’ use and interact with this change in the work environment, it could have an adverse outcome for patients. How would the safety team know this was happening? Near misses seldom get reported. Chance meetings in corridors, chance conversations overheard, a reliance on staff that may know the answer – if we ‘fixed’ the problem for that near miss, why should we report it? No harm came to the patient after all. We have a good culture of reporting in the Trust; however, our safety team are overwhelmed with incidents to investigate. The current system is set up to investigate when harm has happened rather than seeking out ways to prevent harm. I’m part of the problem, so I can be part of the solution? I would welcome any support on this. Does anyone have any solutions or strategies in place where frontline staff are involved in the reporting of near miss events and are part of the solution to mitigate them?
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