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News : Ambulance 999 Call Centre Turnover ‘Caused by Stress'
Bristol, UK, Aug 18, 2015 -- Staff dispatching South Western ambulances are leaving the job because of pressure and a lack of breaks, a union has claimed.
Shane Clark, of Unison, said many call handlers found the role "extremely stressful" and were leaving within three to five years.
But call centre bosses said many staff progress to become paramedics or take up other jobs in the NHS.
The Filton centre handles calls from Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
"Staff could be dealing with a cardiac arrest and then helping someone with a urinary tract infection, all within the space of 15 minutes," Mr Clark said.
"Not enough people are taking up call-handler positions nationally, but it isn't a huge issue. The main issue is that life expectancy in the role is three to five years."
Paul Greatorex, senior control room manager, said staff had two half-hour breaks during a 12-hour shift and a number of "comfort breaks".
He said: "This is where staff can leave the room at any time and make a cup of tea - we also have a quiet room, so if they've had a difficult call they can leave the room for 10 minutes."
He added the centre supported career progression and said many staff go on to become paramedics.
"We are a feeding ground to the rest of the service and other places in the NHS," Mr Greatorex said.
"The good bits about the job is that it's incredibly rewarding and makes a real difference."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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NHS Direct is a 24 hour health advice and information service provided by the National Health Service (NHS) in England. NHS Direct provides confidential access to medical information, guidance and reassurance through a range of interactive services. These include an expert telephone advice line and detailed web resources.
Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2015