Friday, 27 July 2012

Sick Note


"Four weeks off sick....for medics"

This was the headline that The Sun decided to go with today. Simple and to the point! Us 'medics' have  four weeks off sick each year (on average). How dare we?!
"AMBULANCE staff averaged more than FOUR WEEKS’ sick leave each last year, shock statistics revealed yesterday. 
The figure of 22.6 days is FIVE TIMES the norm for UK workers.
In all 405,000 days were lost among 17,922 qualified staff, NHS Information Centre data shows. 
East Midlands Ambulance Service had the highest sickness rate of all with 6.73 per cent of working hours lost. 
NHS sources said many paramedics took time off for stress after being forced to deal with traumatic incidents.
Jonathan Fox of the ambulance workers’ union said they faced soaring call-outs and a pay freeze. He added: “It’s a culture of take, take with very little understanding.”
Overall, NHS staff were ill for 15.56million days — an average of 15 days each. That far exceeds the 4.5 days national average.
Hospital doctors took the fewest sickies — an average of 4.2 days. 
The Health Department wants to cut sick days by a third by March to save £555million a year."
by Emily Ashton, Journalist


Dear Emily Ashton

What an insightful, well researched,  utterly pointless article! Would it not be an idea to ask WHY?! WHY is our sick leave five times the national average? WHY are we going off with stress? These SHOCKING statistics about the NASTY NHS workers must mean we are a bunch of lazy money grabbers surely? Why else publish the article? I wonder what kind of hours you, the writer of this scholary article, work? I wonder what you see on a day-to-day basis? I wonder what physical exertion your body is put through? I wonder how many night shifts you do? I wonder how many times you have been punched, kicked, spat at, beaten, sworn at, vomited over and pissed on? I wonder how many dead babies you have held in the last 12 months?

Guess what Emily Ashton; in the past 12 months I have had almost 11 weeks off work! Write about that. Write about how naughty I am. Write about how I am a scourge on the NHS budget. Write about what a SHOCKING amount of time off this really is! I must add though, when you do, can you also write about the guy who beat me and four 999 colleagues over the head with a fence post? Make sure you highlight how many bones were broken. In fact, while you are on that subject, why not write about every single member of the NHS who has had time off after being physically assaulted by the drunken taxpayer. They do pay our wages after all eh?!

Once you have finished writing about the broken bones and abuse, why not write a little paragraph about shift work?

Why not tell everyone about the 12 hour shifts we do? Why not discuss the changing from early shifts to night shifts, every single week? Why not talk about 70-80 hour weeks we do? Why not talk about doing all of those shifts without a break or a hot meal? Then if you could highlight that we do all of those hours around SICK PEOPLE! Yes, people sometimes call ambulances because they are ill. They have infections, contagious diseases; they cough, vomit, and they spit. Why not talk about the NHS workers who have been off sick after being exposed to HIV blood? Wouldn't that stress you out?

Talking of stress, why not write a list of what we all see on a day to day basis? Would this not affect you?:

  • Seeing a dead 7 year old in a bath
  • Delivering a full term dead baby
  • Delivering a 21 week old foetus
  • Trying to resuscitate an 18 year old who'd fallen 4 storeys
  • Seeing a family of 4 dead in a car
  • Seeing our elderly neglected
  • Losing count of the number of dead bodies you've seen
  • Seeing bones sticking out of limbs
  • Watching a teenager bleed to dead after being stabbed.
  • Finding a desperate soul hanging in front of you.
Would any of this keep you awake at night? Would it stress you out? Maybe not, maybe you're thick skinned. 

I thought I had you there! How about after a 70 hour week, with little sleep, holding a dead baby and being assaulted at least once, you would also then be expected to carry a 30 stone patient down the stairs, oh and wait, there are some stairs to go up too?! Now carry all 10 patients for that one shift, whilst tired, having not eaten, having not had a break? Had enough yet? No? Good because luckily you only have half a day off and then you are back on, for an early shift, after a run of five 12 hour nights.

I think only 4 weeks off is a bloody miracle. Sure, there are a few who take the piss and abuse the system, but there are people in every walk of life that do that. I bet there are even people going around calling themselves journalists.....write about that scandal. Perhaps instead of berating us for the SHOCKING amount of sick leave, you should look at why and write an article about THAT instead. Maybe the Department of Health should look at your findings on that, before trying to cut sick leave by a third. Oh, one more thing, we do all of the above for less than £10 an hour. Living the dream.

Lots of love, from your biggest fan

Ella x

39 comments:

  1. I'm not surprised ambulance staff are off sick so much more than aaverage, given the shift patterns imposed on them. I find it hard to believe they can really be lawful: 12 hour shifts, no breaks, switching between nights and days.

    Apart from any other aspect of the job, this in itself is a recipe for creating poor physical and mental health.

    Shift Work Disorder is a recognised condition which debilitates. And can be easily treated. With simple adjustments to work pattern.

    Given more humane work patterns, I'm sure sickness absence would be reduced. And ambulance crews would be healthier and happier.

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    1. I will read up on that! Interesting stuff! Thanks! x

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  2. Perfect post. Unfortunately until Journos stop re-writing press releases and press association work then this type of lazy work will continue.

    I find it amusing to go to a press agency then find the same story in the different media outlets - the bulk of the story will be pretty much identical other than the spin put on it.

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    1. Thanks! I din't stink of a press release! Sadly she never responded to me on twitter!

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  3. Great post Ella

    This utter bollocks was once again poorly written & poorly researched by another shoddy tabloid journalist. The most stressful part of her day probably consists of what coffee to get in Starbucks or what to write more slander about next.

    The annoying thing is it's journalism like this thats ruining the country.

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    1. Yep! They have to much power but are not made to write and research facts!

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  4. Great blog - Sun = Tory rag !

    Thank you for the excellent job that you do for us !

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  5. 96 days off (including rest days) in 4 yrs 2 1/2months

    Including being kicked, tearing muscles lifting equipment/people and yes 2 weeks with stress! Only 4 periods of sick since Dec2010 and last one in Feb this year the day I started taking medication for what my Dr said was severe hypothyroidism!
    In March I got called into a sickness meeting at 9am having just finished a 12hr nightshift at 7 am and was sacked for my poor sickness record!

    They don't consider the times you go to work ill or injured!!

    I've work having not been able to bend two fingers having had the truck door slam shut on them during a shift. A twisted ankle jumping out of truck carrying all the equipment! Not to mention a badly burnt hand etc etc
    I am not alone!! Many many people are at work when they shouldn't be because like me they are too scared to go sick due to the threats from management!!
    Those in my area even more so now they got away with sacking me, even though I'd only just discovered the cause for most of my previous illness! And even after occy health advised them to allow me 'extra' sickness until my blood levels had normalised!

    Ironically by the time appeal was heard 14wks after being sacked blood levels are now normal! I am normal and fully fit!

    However now I have no job and trouble getting one as soon as anyone finds I was sacked due to sickness record they don't want to know!
    A fully trained and qualified EMT who can't even get an interview for a job in Aldi!!

    This is what happens and what will become more common as the pressures on ambulance workers increase, it's just a matter of time!

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    1. That is absolutely shocking. I can't believe it. So sorry to hear that xx

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  6. This is a really good response and I hope you are also contacting The Sun to see if they would like to publish this in their newspaper* (I use the word NEWSpaper very loosely - gossip-ridden paper full of badly researched crap is more accurate)

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    1. Thank you! I tweeted the 'journalist' a few times with no response! Typical!

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  7. A well thought out reply Ella. Before joining the ambulance service I only ever had a single week off work sick - following an RTA when I was a delivery driver. That's in the 6 years from first starting part time work at 16, just 1 week. Since joining the service I have been off in every calendar year except last year. Mostly with illnesses and injuries contracted at work, broken bones, wounds which have required suturing, chest infections, even a flea infestation for my sins, and of course some "stress" leave following dealing with a baby murdered by his mother.

    The other thing the tabloids are disinterested in is that 4 weeks is an average figure. Many of those who go off with musculo-skeletal injuries are off for upwards of 2 months (3 months for my broken ribs following an assault), but the majority of us are rarely off for more than a week.

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    1. Me too! I had no days off work in 10 years. In 4 years on an ambulance i've been rather ill. There must be a link.....surely!

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  8. I just think you do a fantastic job, in very difficult conditions and I wish THAT side of things was portrayed a hell of a lot more in the media. Things could function a lot differently, I agree with @sectioned_ about making shift patterns and working conditions better, as well as better zero tolerance of abusive&timewasting patients/relatives. Saddened to read Kathy's experience but I know that's more the norm than most realise.

    Well written response hun, I only hope someone out there's listening!!

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    1. Thanks Gem! You're a star! I agree, I will be looking into what @sectioned_ spoke of x

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  9. Ella, well done you for responding to this utter trash from this female who dares to call herself a journalist, when clearly she hasn't done her research! If we told lies in our job & were completely incompetent, would we not be sacked? Hmmm. Emily Ashton needs to spend some time working alongside us to get her facts right. "never judge me until you have walked in my shoes". Media crap like this makes me so angry. We are human beings not robots & we're not immune to having feelings or immune to the bugs every1 else catch. Anyhoo, good for u & great response.

    Angie - Paramedic Glasgow

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    1. Thank you! I would love an ambo hating journo to come on a ride out!

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  10. Very well written,I too work for one of the emergency services.The way we are treated is a National Disgrace,Criminals have more rights.
    This Government attacks us at every opportunity,backed up by our wonderful press

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    1. Yep, we seem to be a target constantly! Not so much for the water fairies! They clearly have a better PR department!

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  11. As a member of Joe Public who has 'found' you recently through twitter and @bigfashionista, Ella I have lost hours reading your blogs, you've evoked incredulity, tears and smiles but also the need to say Thank You.... So So much xx

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    1. Thank you very much! Really appreciate it! x

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  12. Same as chelleysblu above THANK YOU!

    Brilliantly written piece, I do think you should email it to The Scum oops, I mean The Sun and make sure t gets into the paper.

    Just masses of love and thanks from me xo

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  13. This is so well written. You really feel your passion and justifiable anger at this simply embarrassing article by a so-called journalist. What an amazing piece she COULD have written if she'd just taken the time to look behind the statistics and look at the people who work tirelessly to provide us with a service that we would be lost without. Taken a look at how your lives are completely turned upside down. I know how hard you work and it makes me so angry that she has denied you and all your colleagues a voice. She owes everyone in your profession a massive apology!!

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    1. Cheers ABCD! I bet we never get the apology!

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  14. Mammywoo -

    I've said it once and I'll say it again.

    You hit the nail on the head and with every post I love thee more.

    I'm sorry you have to deal with so much. You are a guardian angel x

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    Replies
    1. Awwww thanks Mammywoo! You're a legend! x

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  15. As always Ella, brilliant post. I found myself doing a nodding dog impression as I read that.

    Please tell me that you have sent a copy of this blog to Emily Ashton along with an invite to do a ride out with you and see exactly what the job is about.

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    Replies
    1. Se, when I read the article I found myself shaking my head like an angry Churchill! Oh no no no!!

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  16. ah at last. im so pleased to see youve taken the hint and stopped writing you're pathetic blog. Youll never be respected, lets just hope you stay away. Its as if you're soul purpose has been to anoy me. Your a nobody, I hate your writing style and your tweets. I know who you are. dont forget that. I bet you wine about be being annonymous to! As for you're little crew of followers, they dont bother me. there are people who have earnt my respect with professionalism and talent not by writing utter rubbish. stay away and dont bother coming back. You wont be missed.

    Always hear to ruin your day

    Annonymous

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    1. Oh dear god the typos and grammar here are an appalling testament to what an uneducated idiot you are anonymous (one n, clues in the profile you chose) And to think Ella writes just for you, ha, deluded egomaniac

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    2. Hey anonymous! How you doing?! I've missed you! I've missed you so much in fact, i've written a post called Trolls especially for you! Have a read!

      Lots of love

      Ella x

      Delete
    3. Thanks Gem! Deluded egomaniac just about sums them up!

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    4. What a twat!!!

      I love your blog. I can't wait for the next instalment.

      Delete
    5. What a twat!!!

      I love your blog. I can't wait for the next instalment.

      Delete

  17. Anonymous, I do love when you show up. You never fail to make me smile with your stupid, inane, illiterate, embarrassingly grammatically incorrect comments. But I admire you for trying. Its a shame you don't try hard enough.

    You, my friend, need to work on your own writing skills. I use the work 'skills', very lightly. I also use the word 'basic' lightly.

    You're - You are
    Your - Its yours. It belongs to you.
    Anoy? Do you mean 'annoy'?
    Earnt? Again, you probably mean 'earned'.

    You use the words 'dont, youve, youll, wont, im... Well, let me introduce you to my friend. He's called an apostrophe.

    Aw, sweetie, you think your comments ruin Ella's day? I think you're slightly obsessed. That's cute.

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    1. I love this comment! Perfect! Thank you!!

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  18. Thank you Ella.
    Ashton......be embarrassed......and rectify your article.
    Rewi Kemp

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