EEAST Unison activity update

EEAST Unison Activity Update

There is an air of uncertainty as to when the predicted surge in C-19 cases and deaths will strike in our region, or if at all, which is sadly reflected by the lack of concern being demonstrated by the number of individuals who continue to flaunt the lockdown by ignoring the Government restrictions. Neighbours dare not challenge neighbours, or other members of the public, in case it results in offensive, violent or aggressive responses which would have a lingering impact long after the lockdown is lifted.

However, within our service we are all doing our bit to ensure that we limit the risk of the infection spreading within our workplace by following basic hygiene, social distancing as far as is reasonably practical and risk assessing the levels of PPE we might need to wear.

The current situation is changing at a fast pace and often it is not possible to get the latest information out there in time for everyone to read before the content needs to be acted upon. The Trust communicates and distributes information normally via Need To Know (NTK), emails and daily “Huddles” but there are apparent variations in how successfully this is being achieved across the Trust especially in respect of road staff.

The way in which we report for duty and the numerous different layouts of our bases give rise to a plethora of issues that would benefit from standardisation. Ideally there should be a single Central Information Point located at a realistic location within the building where crews could easily access everything they need at the start of the shift such as:

(1) What vehicle am I assigned to (2) who is my crew partner (3) where is the vehicle located (4) Access to vehicle key safe (5) Access to the C.D. store (6) Updates on Highway matters such as local road closures (7) Clinical Updates and (8) Need To Know matters and other essential information. Not all bases have a Central Information Point, but it could make life a lot easier if they did.

On the down side, the main priority is getting crews to sign-on via MDT on their vehicles as quickly as possible, without needless delays, and this can often result in “Huddles” not happening, notices and emails not being read because crews are doing their best to meet the demand for a quick log on and to get their Mandatory Roadworthy Checks (MRCs) and Vehicle Daily Inspections (VDIs) completed, all within the opening 15 minutes of their shift. A challenging and unrealistic expectation.

The matter regarding PTS ambulances not having fixed bulkheads was raised again and a decision that temporary bulkheads will be installed was communicated to Unison by Paul Henry (Deputy Director of Operations Support) on 22 April 2020. The matter is being pursued by Chris Wiltshire (Head of Fleet) and a number of robust “temporary” bulkhead designs are being consider instead of flimsy plastic sheeting & gaffer taps.

There has been conflicting National and International advice regarding AGPs and when to wear Level 3 and this has to a certain extent caused a lot of concern and unrest by clinicians. The fundamental advice has always been and will always be to assess the scene for Danger and based upon your risk assessment, take the appropriate action.

If the scene is not safe to proceed, then don’t go any further. If Back up is required, call for it. If the load is too heavy, use manual handling kit or call for back up. Likewise, if the risk assessment dictates you should be wearing PPE, assess which level, and wear it; but remember to carefully follow the decontamination and safety route when removing it to ensure you do not become contaminated yourself.

When you order a new pair of boots, you already know your shoe size, but do YOU know which size of Tyvek suit fits YOU, allows you full range of movement without restricting or tearing and will not hinder YOU when working?

The time to find out which is the correct size for you is NOT at the point when you need it on scene; it is recommended that a set of sizes be made at key locations for members to try on in advance of actually needing one. This will prevent countless suits being wasted and cast aside on scene due to ill-fitting and will reduce the time taken to don it when time is of the essence.

Unison Branch Officers have been having daily video meetings with the Trust every week day at 18:30 in order to discuss and resolve current matters and these meetings have now reduced to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Video meetings have just started in respect of the new build of a Hub at BSE and Unison Health & Safety has raised a number of issues including the fact there were no changing rooms included in the plan. This matter is now being followed up.

A Video meeting took place today with Mike Hill (Branch Chair, Jeff Pittman (Branch Health & Safety Officer), Marcus Bailey (Chief Operating Officer) and Cameron Matthews (Fire Brigade Union) to review the involvement, deployment and Scope of Practice in respect of the firefighters who have volunteered to assist us during the pandemic. A full report will follow.

Jeff Pittman

East of England Ambulance Service

Unison Health & Safety Office