Keeping up with the Laundry

I’m not one who is comfortable with airing dirty laundry in public and will be the first to acknowledge that the UK 999 Ambulance system probably has a whole load of dirty washing in their laundry hamper. A basket load of catching up on. Eight minute targets, winter pressures and staffing levels over Christmas are probably a few of the dirties. Like most, I’m aware of this festering pile that keeps being pushed to the bottom of the laundry hamper, comfortable with the notion that . . “they will get around to it”. But what happens when you see the dirty washing on the front page of the media press? What happens when everyone knows you have run out of clean underwear?

The UK is running out of Paramedics! That’s the general gist of the headline “The 999 meltdown” appearing in Augusts, The Spectator. Mary Wakefield writes a short piece on how the London Ambulance service has lost larger numbers of frontline staff lately. I’m not going  through that dirty washing pile, but would rather highlight something we all know about doing the laundry. Paramedics are like socks, if you look after them, they last a very long time. Having a good supply is important in getting through the weeks, so some investment is needed in turning the numbers around. How do you do that?  by continuous quality education!

Being in education I will attest to the recent surge in the numbers of Paramedic graduates currently passing through the educational systems. The commissioning ambulance trusts have realised they will be running low on recruitment in the coming years  with ambulance demand goes through the roof. Treading the fine line between quality and quantity is a balancing act most educators face with commissioning bodies. All educators I know have happily given up quantity to preserve quality in our current paramedic practice. But if we are turning out quality paramedics through our educational system, I would want to know they are being looked after. Not only their welfare but their professional development, investing in the future with continual professional education and career advancement. Paramedics should not be a commodity. Not an old pair of worn out socks to be thrown away when they develop a hole. Darn it! Look after them.

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