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NHS Crisis: Explained What is the reason for the paramedic shortage?

By Sonny Snelling

The NHS have recently stated there is a paramedic shortage this winter. What are the reasons for this epidemic?

The NHS is near breaking point with long A&E waiting hours accompanied by a shortage of paramedics all over the country.

A Guardian report stated that ambulance services faced a shortage this winter just as 999 calls hit new peaks.

James Norton is a paramedic science student at Coventry University and believes that being a paramedic is not appealing.

He said: “At the moment there’s not a lot of incentive to go out and become a paramedic in this country.

James enjoys his job, but understands why people are wary of it.

“To become one you’re looking at up to £45,000 debt before you’ve even started.

“When you consider they only earn up to £35,000 per year, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to want to do it.”

James also mentioned the strain the job can have on people.

He said: “It is an incredibly physical and mentally stressful job with long unsociable hours.

“If your stay as a paramedic until you are in your late 50’s which is unlikely due to the high rates of burnouts amongst them you are looking at becoming jobless.

“Considering that the current generation is predicted to retire at around 70 that leave up to 15 years of uncertainty.”

A spokesperson from South East Coast Ambulance service (SECAmb) said: “Like the rest of the country, Kent is experiencing a shortage of paramedics.

“SECAmb has a developed a comprehensive recruitment strategy to attract applicants to a number of roles across the Trust.”

SECAmb explained what these strategies were, saying:

“We continue to work closely with our local universities and on the clinical development of our own staff to increase paramedic numbers.

“It has also been recognised that in addition to attracting local and national talent, we should expand our proposition to reach international candidates.

SECAmb have a plan to deal with the major situation.

“Along with various other local recruitment activities, including attendance at major recruitment fairs in the UK, it was decided that, like other ambulance trusts, having visibility and actively engaging with our international target audience was key to successfully recruiting and filling vacancies. Countries we have targeted include Australia.”

Liz Harris who is the Executive Officer at The College of Paramedics agrees that there are many reasons for the shortage.

“The number of people applying for courses is huge and people want to become paramedics.

“But, they are more qualified than they used to be and this means they can move into other areas such as GP’s. Even being able to go from NHS to private.”

Liz also thinks money is a factor in the shortage.

She said: “There’s no money. Paramedics have never had access to bursaries. This is all due to cut across the board.”

The shortage problem is an emergency. With a rapid increase of 999 calls. The wounds will have to be healed quickly.

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