Ambulance bosses spend millions on redundancies

Ambulances queuing outside Royal Preston Hospital
Ambulances queuing outside Royal Preston Hospital

North West ambulance bosses have denied union claims that £7m has been spent on redundancies.

The GMB union claims that the under-pressure North West Ambulance Service has spent £7m on making staff redundant over the last seven years.
However, NWAS bosses disputed this claim, and said the figure was nearer to £3.5m, and was primarily for administrative and corporate staff, rather than frontline medical personnel.
The combined spend on redundancy and other forms of exit packages by the 10 ambulance trusts in England since 2010 amounts to £31 million, the GMB union says.
These figures came from a Freedom of Information request submitted to the ambulance trusts by GMB.
Kevin Brandstatter, GMB national officer, said: “It is hugely concerning that trusts’ increasingly scarce resources are being used in this way rather than on front line care.
“Our members are there when we need them most.
“They deserve better than this.
“At a time when our emergency services are at breaking point we should be investing in our ambulance services, not cutting them.”
However, the figures were questioned by NWAS.
A spokesman said: “NWAS works very closely with its partner trade unions to avoid redundancies and to support staff into alternative employment.
“The amount spent on redundancy costs over the last seven years is significantly lower than that stated by GMB, although the trust has also run NHS approved schemes which enable staff to leave voluntarily for a reduced severance payment.
“Where redundancies are made or voluntary schemes are offered, they are primarily within management, administrative and corporate functions in order to make efficiencies and cost savings which in turn enables us to maintain and improve our frontline services for patients.
“Although we have made savings through reduced administrative costs we have also been able to grow out frontline 999 services by 6 per cent over the last three years.”
The union says in 2013/14 alone, the trusts forked out more than £10m on exit packages. This spend would pay almost 300 paramedics’ salaries for a year.
Mr Brandstatter added: “It is concerning that trusts’ increasingly scarce resources are being used in this way rather than on care.”
NWAS has come under sustained pressure in recent years as it has struggled to hit targets for response times.
The Trust was called a "shambles" in the House of Commons by Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd, who accused the trust of putting people's lives at risk with long waiting times.
He told parliament: "Staffing simply is not keeping pace with the change in demand".