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Ambulance service worst affected when it comes to impact of Covid on mental health, reveals charity

by Matt Trinder 

Industrial reporter

THE mental health of ambulance service workers has been the hardest hit of all emergency staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey from charity Mind reveals.

Contributions from almost 4,000 staff and volunteers in the police, fire and ambulance services shows that mental health has worsened across the board, but that ambulance workers have been the worst affected.

They are the most likely to say their mental health has worsened, with a massive 77 per cent reporting a deterioration over the last year, as opposed to two thirds of police and fire workers.

The highest proportion of respondents saying they have “poor” mental health are within the ambulance service, at almost one in three (32 per cent).

This compares with 23 per cent of those in the police and 20 per cent of firefighters. 

Mind’s head of workplace wellbeing Emma Mamo said the pandemic has made a difficult job harder.

“We know that even before the coronavirus outbreak, there were high rates of poor mental health across the emergency services,” she said.

“Coronavirus has made these roles even more demanding as staff are faced with making more difficult and, potentially, life-and-death decisions [every day].   

“It’s really important that our hard-working emergency responders are able to access support for their wellbeing.”

Unison national ambulance officer Colm Porter said: “Crews and call handlers must respond to traumas most people, thankfully, never have to experience.

“Throw an ever-increasing workload into the mix as the service struggles to cope with too few staff, and it’s easy to see why the impact on ambulance workers has been huge.

“Employers must begin to translate talk of improved support and other good intentions into proper assistance.”

Last week, Unite’s national officer for health Jackie Willams called for “maximum sensitivity and full consultation” with unions to help workers with mental health problems.

Reacting to the survey, Anna Parry, deputy managing director at the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said: “Wellbeing support is offered to all ambulance service staff and volunteers at both local and national levels. 

“A primary focus for us is working with Mind and other partners to ensure the suitability and effectiveness of existing support whilst enhancing understanding and awareness of employee mental health and wellbeing.”

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