Saturday 2 March 2013

Please Sir, can I have some more?

Dear David

I'd like to start by wishing you and your family well in these tough economic times. You and Samantha's combined salaries of £400,000 plus shares and bonuses must be really getting spread thin. I empathise, I really do. Like you, I seem to work all the hours god sends yet that £25,000 seems to just disappears! Still waiting for my mileage expenses to come through though, so that will be an extra £42 in the piggy bank! I love expenses! Anyway, the point of this letter is one of a more serious nature. 

I have waited a long time to write this too you. Let me draw your mind back to your first assault on the Police service. In case you'd forgotten you cut 16,000 officers. Less is more! Quality over quantity! Needs must! Look at the bigger picture! We will all feel the pinch! No one is immune from cuts! All very very true. We must indeed all pay the price for the bankers and politicians sticking our country in the economical dark ages. But, there are consequences to your ill advised cuts. Let me share a story. A story that brings back painful memories. A story that still bears real scars. 

As a paramedic, one who has been through years of training and sacrificed friends and family for such a fulfilling salary, I understand that part of my job, in fact, part of my salary is danger money. Well, not officially, but being abused is part of the job, right? As the Right Honourable Ann Widecombe, recently said, "Public servants worry more about their own safety than that of the public, Britain has sunk to a new low". I'm guessing by your lack of condemnation of these comments you must agree wholeheartedly. So, as an 'ambulance driver' (yes, we are that low in the food chain), a bit of danger comes with the territory. One afternoon, I was called to a residential address to a man who had 'passed out'. 

When I arrived that man was lying on the grass. I approached him, on my own, and he appeared drunk. I went about my business, checking him over, when the ambulance crew arrived. We began to get the bed off the ambulance all the while making sure the member of the public was OK. We are public servants after all and serve we shall. Without warning the patient stood up and swayed a little, then staggered into a fence. Poor guy eh?!

He then beat me with a fence post. He also beat the other members of the ambulance service. Three of us in all. Do you know what it feels like to be helpless against a man beating you with a lump of wood? Despite all of our broken bones we managed to press our emergency button. Let me share a conversation with you.

Me: "Red base red base, urgent police, we are being attac......." I stop because the lump of wood has been broken over the back of my head and then broke my hand.

Crew 1: "Red base, my crew mate has been hit over the head, urgent police" he says with 3 broken ribs.

Red Base: "Getting the police for you now, are you all OK, can you get to safety."

Crew 2: "I'm now locked in the car, I think my wrist is broken, he's still attacking us."

Crew 1: "We are away from him but he's coming after us. Are the police on way?"

Red Base: "The police have no units to send, try and maintain a safe distance."

Crew 2: "He's trying to get in the car, he's hitting it with the wood"

Crew 1: "I think he's stopped, he's lying in the road but we can't drive off."

Crazy stuff isn't Dave! No units to send?! But aren't the police supposed to be there to protect us? Surely in a real emergency they have someone to send. Surely you didn't cut too many? It's OK, 9 minutes later two undercover officers arrived. Part of their job is getting abused too. I should probably mention now that in their efforts to protect us from the patient they too both got broken bones. They were struggling to restrain him on their own so much, that we all helped. We all restrained him for 10 more minutes until more help arrived. Guess what we did then Dave? We all took the patient to hospital for treatment. With our broken bones and bleeding wounds, we checked his blood pressure, he even got to travel on the bed. He is of course a member of the public and we are all their servants.

Now, do you still think less police is the right answer? What if you or your beloved family were trapped somewhere in real fear for your life? What if you called for help? What thoughts would go through your mind when you heard those terrifying words "No units to send." The officer who came to my aid told me that it used to be a team of 25 to police the borough on this shift. Today it was a team of 7. No doubt they got complaints from the public for not coming to their aid quick enough whilst 2 of the 7 were sat in A & E with me and my colleagues. Tut tut. We really must all work harder.

The good news from all of this, was our patient was treated professionally by us and the hospital. He was arrested and charged. He was sent to prison. However, because of your cuts to the prison service he has already been released and I could bump into him anytime of any day.  Oh fact, only last week, I was sent on a job to his house. Can you imagine the fear Dave, can you? Luckily he wasn't there. 

I am proud to say that in this country we have by far the best police service in the world. The things they do and the dangers they face without a gun on their belt. The professionalism they show at all times is nothing short of amazing. That is in the face of your assault on their salary, their pensions and their working conditions. Now you are making a career in the police as unappealing as possible by slashing the starting salary and rushing through the 'Eton Old Boys' to top ranking jobs without ever having to be spat at, kicked, punched, stabbed, shot, sworn at, had missiles through at them and put their lives on the line. It is plain and simple Dave. There are not enough of them any more. Not enough by a long shot. So, in the words of Oliver Twist, 'Please Sir, can I have some more?'

Just a thought, you know that publicly owned bank, RBS? You know, the one we all bailed out with our taxes. Well they are paying their staff £950,000,000 in bonuses this year. As they are PUBLICLY owned, why not use the money to fund the salaries for 38,000 new police officers on £25,000 a year. I think my maths is right. There are other banks to you know. Other ones we all helped fix. How about they now help fix us? I know, I know, I'm probably not looking at the bigger picture, but in that big picture I just see the words 'No Units To Send'. Silly me.

By the way Dave, this wasn't a work of fiction for effect. This actually happened. To me. Have a read.

Good luck with the economy Dave, there are tough times ahead.

Your Sincerely

Ella Shaw (Public Servant)


  1. Blimey, how horrendous for you! That would have had me leaving the job x

  2. ...two nursing colleagues of mine were attacked by a service user once, they had to lock themselves in the car, man was pulling off the windscreen wipers so they couldn't drive off, one of them called the police, the other phoned the office. The police told them it was "too dangerous" for them to send backup and suggested that a nurse and a HCA "try and calm him down"... not a great response...

    1. What an unlikely story. "Too dangerous" for police? Who's remit would something too dangerous for police to deal with come under? Leaving aside the fact that "man pulling off windscreen wipers" sounds relatively trivial...

    2. ...well we were quite surprised by the police response too. It was a nurse and a HCA from the crisis team who had visited a (somewhat psychotic) service user who chased them screaming from the house into their car, then lay over the bonnet trying to pull the windscreen wipers off. Sorry if you think that's trivial but my colleagues who were in the car didn't! Thankfully once the terrified wife called the police from inside the house they duly sent round a riot van...

    3. I don't know any police officer who ever uttered the words "too dangerous for police to send backup", ever, in the history of the world. It's never happened, and it will never happen.

    4. yeah you're right, I'm lying, such things are completely impossible. thanks for shedding light on the subject, my colleagues and I obviously hallucinated the whole incident. Thanks for that!

    5. ...if it helps we've also had police officers suggesting we "carry out a CRB check on the local community" point is that the response mental health teams can get from the police is variable and that no agency is infallible...

    6. Do remember that the police is a collection of individuals. We don't always get all the information we need right away. Most people in public service have seen poor service, usually because someone, far removed, made the wrong call. No organization is perfect, but it is true to say that we would get it right much more often if we weren't so thin on the ground.

  3. Another excellent blog Ella sorry to hear about that job though it's shocking for any health care worker to be attacked in that way.

    I couldn't agree more with the comments about the Tories and David Cameron there's far far too much being taken from the vital services that this country needs, It's all about looking after the rich and with Dave's apparent contempt towards the police and other services it doesn't look like it's going to get any better.

    As a non member of the emergency services I have nothing but respect for the jobs that you all do, nobody is paid enough to be subjected to that sort of attack. Keep up the good work I really like reading your blogs.

  4. This is very well written Ella...
    Has this gone anywhere except a blog...
    How much media attention does it require to get noticed I wonder.

  5. Shared on facebook, G+ and Twitter. I think I'll forward a link to my MP as well. Mind, seeing as I'm in Scotland and we've just merged all of our regional forces into one national one to save a few quid on photocopying, I don't know how much sympathy he'll have.

  6. You know, if bankers faced this day in, day out, no-one would mind them getting a bonus, however massive. Yet apparently it is those in the public sector that are overpaid and have pensions that are too high. It's enough to make you weep. How anyone can vote Tory in the face of this sort of 'looking after their own even tho they've already got it all' thing, I do not know.

  7. Ella,
    As a police officer this was a brilliant read for me. Thank you for recognising the way that the police cuts in both salaries and numbers are effecting us ALL!
    However I must say that in recent months I have noticed a very odvious lack of available ambulances, is it that the wider cuts are severly effecting the level of service that the NHS can also offer?
    Let's hope old Dave doesn't need you in the near future either.

    1. Not only are there fewer ambulances available (there were 2 DMAs in my county on Friday night) but there are other issues as well:

      Local hospitals are closing, which means an ambulance will take longer to get to you once it's cleared from it's previous patient as the receiving hospital may now be twice as far away

      Having Foundation Trust status means that ambulance stations are closing and the DMAs are located at a central hub (which may be up to 30 mins away on blues) instead of having them dotted about the place.

      Other services (such as mental health) have had their funding cut to the bone so we're having to deal with more non-emergency stuff as the agencies that used to deal with it no longer exist

      So all in all it's a bit of a clusterfuck really.

    2. Thank you!

      Clusterfuck describes the situation perfectly!

  8. Called the police one day as we had a service user threatening our staff and saying he had a gun. Trying to break the door down. Called the police and they didn't arrive for over half an hour. The break in at the minimart round the corner took higher priority than someone threatening to kill crisis team staff. When they did arrive they drove straight past him to the ward. They nearly ran him over, unfortunately they missed.

    Another occasion we had to leave a client's house being chased by him. Our call the the police went as a lower priority than the one 5 mins later where he had got into an altercation with a driver who had threatened him. The driver got all the attention whilst he was in the house with a family member and could have been murdering her for all they cared. The driver could have won an oscar for his performance.

    1. I called a crisis team the other week and waited over 6 hours for them to come and assess someone.

  9. Excellent well written piece, sad thing is though that Cameron and co will
    1) probably never see it and
    2) wouldn't care even if they did

    Still hasn't stopped me sharing it though and I would urge everyone to do likewise

  10. Posted on FB & retweeted
    Broken Britain? Certainly broke from bailing out banks that whilst making losses can still pay bonuses? How can that be right?

    How about any banker in one of the 'publicly owned' banks earning more than £75,000 does a year of after work volunteering in A&E or as a Special Constable?

    Better yet how about MPs get a flat rate wage and no extras for being on a committee or for being a minister?

  11. Cameron and the rest of his shower should do a week with you!

    Thank god I'm out of it now.

  12. Well said

    Here is a tip dont ever say to the Police Control or use the words - left the scene- gone - incident over or any others in a similar vein.

    once you do the system will automatically downgrade the response to something you will be annoyed and suprised at. Dont blame us - blame the Goverment

  13. But where should this money come from?

    Reducing the PM's salary will see even more people who ALREADY have money and less that don't - or those that have 'other' sources of money - trying to fill the position.
    And it is a drop in the ocean - we'd be talking a handful of staff across the country.

    Imagine a situation where you were told your contracted salary would be reduced by a significant amount.
    Do you think that would encourage more caring people to join your profession?
    Or do you think it would put people off further?

    I want better banking for long term growth.
    To get that we have to consider why these 'bankers' have power.
    They have power because they have money.
    They have money because people and organisations give them money.
    Where does that money originate from - us, the people at the bottom giving it to other people.
    Be it giving it directly to the banks to look after (how many of us choose the best interest rate rather than the one that will invest it in long term sustainability with low returns)... or be it spending money on a company that has to make good profits to repay the trust of share holders.

  14. Such a fantastically worded blog. As a police officer it frustrates me that the public believe the advice or responses they receive when dialling 999 are coming from ' police'. They are often civilian staff who have never experienced the incidents spoken of and often have flow charts to work through to decide their response. Please dont hold those in uniform out on the streets responsible as believe me they are often just as frustrated as the public are. Remember they have to wait for help even longer now due to lack of numbers.

    I understand, to a degree, why police are assaulted or abused, they are taking away people's liberty and freedom but to attack paramedics?! Disgusting. I'm a police officer and wouldn't be a paramedic for double the salary. That says something doesn't it?

    Thank you for the work you do, we couldn't do it without you

    Leah Crossman

  15. Im a paramedic currently off work unfit for duty due to the drunken antics of a 'service user'. Ella, your blog rings all too true...sadly. The worst and saddest thing of all is that I don't think Dave or any of his mates give a toss.

  16. While I do love your blog - this is sending my blood pressure to the roof and I may end up needing to call your for your services...BLoody hell. I know this is a terrible question but does that not make him exempt almost from using your services? or does it not work that way?


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