I got a call from the BBC on Friday afternoon asking if I was available to discuss London Ambulance Service’s announcement that they were looking to recruit experienced paramedics from abroad.

At 0550 the next morning, I was on my way to the local broadcasting studio to be plugged into the Beeb communication mainframe so I could talk to Tony Livesey, co-host of Radio 5 live’s Saturday Breakfast show based in Manchester.

This short conversation, which aired at 0650, was the result (click the orange ‘play’ button to listen to the clip):

Further Thoughts

As has been the case on my previous appearances, I came away feeling we’d barely scratched the surface of the topic.

Had there been more time (or perhaps if I’d rambled less), I’d have liked to brought the focus of the discussion around to attrition (which was where I was going with the 20,000 registered paramedics) with many experienced paramedics being lost to burn-out, injury or opportunities elsewhere. This ongoing loss of experienced staff is surely one of the primary reasons for Trusts to need to go to such desperate measures to recruit, not the ‘increase in demand’ as the LAS press release cites. I’m sure the continual rise in demand and the lack of adequate resources couldn’t have come as such a surprise to them that they suddenly need to go to the far side of the planet.

As many of the comments of the Broken Paramedic Facebook discussion pointed out, there are many reasons for people to be leaving and far fewer for them to be arriving – especially in London, where the cost of living on a paramedic salary is far less appealing than elsewhere in the country, even with London weighting.

It will be interesting to see if the recruitment campaign is a success, especially given that there would likely be a backlash if there was a ‘golden hello’ package involved.

Incidentally, ‘golden hellos’ were the reason why the above broadcast ended with a slightly out-of-place statement from East of England Ambulance Service regarding their recruitment and counselling services. The reason for that was that, during discussions with the BBC production team on Friday afternoon, I had brought their attention to a related paramedic recruitment story published that day in the Eastern Daily Press, in which EEAS were criticised for ‘spending more than £100,000 on “golden hello” payments to new front-line staff.’ In order to give them the ‘right to reply’, EEAS were contacted.

In any case, the fact that efforts are being made to bolster the ranks of paramedics can only be a good thing. It seems to indicate funding and management decisions are heading in the right direction.

Or is that being too optimistic?


Anonymous · 18/02/2014 at 12:45

Barely scratched the surface indeed. It's a shame you didn't have more time alloted for such a serious matter. Anyway. I feel this measure will not make a huge difference. As long as we continue to lose staff at a steady rate, any recruitment will only be breaking-even. Also, recruitment is one side of the coin; retaining staff in London seems to be the main difficulty.

What happens after these new staff have spent a year in post in the dire working conditions we have? I can't see many of them hanging around. LAS has (and have always had) a very short-sighted approach to many operational matters. To coin a cliche: react rather than proact.

Time will surely tell…

Anon (naturally)

Anonymous · 18/02/2014 at 18:52

I see a FOI request on 'what do they know' regarding 'paramedic recruitment update' shows EEAST contradicting its own earlier figures. EEAST are now reporting they have '19 more paramedics in January 2014 compared to January 2012'.
J Lowe, who made the FOI request has pointed out the figures supplied show a NET LOSS of 31 paramedics since January 2012! Here is the reply from J Lowe – credit "WhatDoTheyKnow.com".


"From: J Lowe

17 February 2014

Dear East of England Ambulance Service

Unfortunately, yet again the information you supplied does not
appear correct.

On 17th October 2013, figures supplied by you showed that there was
a net loss of -52.40 paramedics for 2012.
There was a net gain of just 3.69 paramedics for the months Jan –
Mar 2013 making a net total of -48.71.

The figures you have now supplied show that over the next nine
months you only managed to recruit a net gain of 17 paramedics.
That means you have 31 fewer paramedics than 2 years ago.

It also means that on average, you recruited less than 2 paramedics
/ month towards the total of 231 as set out in the Trust's
turnaround plan. At that rate it would have taken nearly 10 years
to achieve the figure you said you wanted to.

Clearly whenever the Trust talk about the number of paramedics they
have recruited, it is vitally important that people ask how many
have left during the same period, especially as you are spending
huge sums of money on golden "Hello" payments at the same time as
your existing staff are leaving in droves.

Yours sincerely,

J Lowe"

It appears that basic maths (or telling the truth) is not their strong point at EEAST when replying to FOI requests. None of the figures are very good and so many paramedics leaving demonstrates poor working conditions and a lack of staff confidence. Unless working conditions improve and the Trust also starts providing some ongoing paid training I predict the flood of paramedics out of EEAST will continue.

Anonymous · 20/02/2014 at 23:40

Wow, Roger Thayne, former chief executive of Staffordshire Ambulance calling cardiac arrest survival figures “misleading”? (News, Ambulance Postcode Lottery)

Pot meet kettle – here is the Healthcare Commission (forerunner of the CQC) report of their investigation into Staffordshire Ambulance Service


If you read pages 66-67 referring to clinical audit, the trust focused on thrombolysis and ROSC, recording when they achieved ROSC before transferring a patient to hospital and how often there was ROSC on arrival at hospital. “There was concern from some staff working in local accident and emergency departments about patients who had been recorded as having a pulse on arrival but who did not have a pulse once the automated gas-driven chest compression device was removed. One consultant told us that ‘there could be cases where they have measured a pulse in the patient five miles from the hospital and then when the patient arrives in hospital…..the pulse has gone’”.

“The definition that the trust used for ROSC has been questioned….. unlike the Utstein template the trust includes patients who have been deemed as not for resuscitation. These patients would not normally be included in a report on cardiac arrests and would therefore inflate the number of cardiac arrests seen”.

“……clinical report found a number of flaws in the information presented about the number of patients who had a ROSC at hospital. The report had included patients who were terminally ill and expected to die, or where a community paramedic had attended to confirm death. This resulted in an artificial inflation of the number of patients reported to have had a cardiac arrest”.

“….the percentage of patients who had a ROSC on arrival at hospital was 24% as stated in the report. However, this represented 223 patients , not 509 as stated in the report. The review also commented on the absence of an unequivocal uniform definition of ROSC across the trust”.

The worrying thing about the whole of the report is that EEAST have repeated many of the other mistakes highlighted by the investigation!

Anonymous · 22/02/2014 at 08:37

If I select a few quotes from a job description can you work out what the job is?
“…not be afraid to be in a pressured and sometimes confrontational environment…”, ….”Authority to challenge ….. behaviour should inappropriate actions and attitude be observed,” ….“Performance management ………….. with authority to enforce protocol and escalate issues to appropriate manager.”

Security guard? Prison officer? Police? Concentration camp guard?

No, they are quotes from the job description for “HALO’s” (Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officer)


Funny thing is, the recruitment agency (Reed) even spelt ‘Liaison’ wrong!

What isn't funny is encouraging inappropriate bullying behaviour by staff against already stressed crews.

Amela Jones · 18/02/2015 at 11:39

Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?


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