East Midlands ambulance union criticises staff policy

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A union has criticised the standard of care offered by some new front line ambulance staff.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has said more than £2.8m is being spent to train 140 Emergency Care Assistants (ECAs) by the end of the summer.

These will be able to assess patients and free paramedics to prioritise the most urgent cases, bosses say.

But Unison claims the ECAs have only basic training and more qualified roles have been axed.

'Modern service'

EMAS said 34 new ECAs had started work in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

From the end of March, 16 ECAs will begin working across Lincolnshire and a further 90 are in training to take posts across the region by the end of this summer.

Phil Milligan, EMAS chief executive, said: "Demand is greater than ever before so we are working within the funds available to us to ensure we have the right people and resources in place to respond to calls quickly and appropriately. This means investing in our front line services.

"These developments support our aim to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose service."

John McGrath, from Unison, said: "They are trained to a certain standard but it is below that of a technician or a paramedic.

"There is a role in the ambulance service, we believe, for the emergency care assistants, however what we have pushed for and have written to the trust about is the reintroduction of the technician role so the patients get a better level of service."

A final decision on a major reorganisation of EMAS stations is expected next week.

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