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The attrition of Paramedics in NHS Ambulance trusts has recently been significant and well published by the media.

Figures from the UK’s largest ambulance service showed that 238 people left in 2013-14, compared to 80 from 2011-2012. Thirty paramedics left in May 2014 alone, the trust said.

These are clearly staggering numbers and the media have attempted to cast some potential reasons to justify the cause of this attrition; some of which may be well justified, some of which are clearly, to any Paramedic, a long way off.

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Why are Paramedics Leaving?

Living Costs in Cities

Living costs in city centres (where there is naturally a higher demand for Paramedics) are said to be one of the leading causes, so much so that the London Ambulance Service are calling on more to be done to tackle the cost of living for healthcare staff in cities.

LAS director of operations Jason Killens said: “The real issue for us here is the high cost of living and working in London. Not only for us but all public sector workers… “The evidence we have submitted to the London Health Board and indeed to the national pay review body is asking them to seriously consider what more can be done to support all public sector workers with the true cost of living in our capital cities.”

Clearly this is an issue facing everyone who lives and works in London. The NHS’ ‘agenda for change’ pay scales do actually take into account a ‘city weighting’ on salaries for NHS workers, including Paramedics, but this is clearly not quite enough of a step to cover the increasingly high costs of living.

Stress & Burnout

There is no doubt that being a Paramedic is a stressful job, not least when you are dealing with life or death on the front-line of the NHS. This coupled with staff shortages, long shifts and increasing demand for 999 ambulance services are resulting in many becoming burnt out. There is also a vicious circle here… the more people leave, the higher the pressure and demand on those remaining.

Increase In Demand For Emergency Ambulances

The North West Ambulance Service NHS trust has seen 11 percent more 999 calls, and 14 percent more high-priority ‘red incidents’ in May and June 2014 than the same period the previous year. The board says:

The increase in high priority incidents is stretching the available ambulance resource to a point where at certain times patients who are less critical are getting an attendance that is much longer than they expect. This is generating a circular problem with rising sickness rates amongst staff which means even less resources to meet the continually high demand.’

How Are Jigsaw Medical Helping?

Firstly, I think one of the key thinks to clarify is that we are not just an agency. Yes, we provide staffing solutions to the NHS, including NHS ambulance trusts but that is not all we do, and it is this which makes us best placed to support Trusts struggling with attrition rates. As a company, we are run by Health Care Professionals (actually, our Founder & Managing Director is a Paramedic) and we truly understand the issues surrounding Ambulance trusts and the Paramedic profession in the UK – not just claim to.

The first thing to recognise in order to look at helping with this problem is to find out why these Paramedics are leaving in huge numbers. That is fairly easy for us to conclude as we have a large team of Paramedics, not just registered with us, but who work full-time for Jigsaw Medical. Why did these people leave the NHS and come to work for Jigsaw Medical? That is a good starting point for us to determine what we need to do as an employer and indeed agency, to recruit and retain these Paramedics within Jigsaw Medical, or on behalf of our clients.

From our experience of those who made the move from full-time NHS employment to working for Jigsaw Medical, much of their rationale was behind flexible working; a number of them still work on our front-line agency provision to a number of NHS Trusts, something they wouldn’t be doing at all if they had gone to work for a different company not offering this diverse service, or even changed careers completely.

So what do we do for Paramedics?

  • We offer flexible working for our Paramedics, with a hugely diverse range of placement opportunities on Jigsaw ambulances; they can continue to work on the front-line in various NHS trusts to using their skills at some of the UK’s largest events.
  • … in fact our work is so flexible, we have several options for Paramedics, whether they just want some ad-hoc shifts or want to work full-time for Jigsaw Medical across our NHS, event and repatriation contracts thus creating a truly diverse and very different job!
  • Our dedicated team of experienced and highly professional resourcing coordinators and clinical support managers are available to all of our Paramedics, 24/7. We believe in leading the way when it comes to looking after our team, so if you want to speak to one of our Managers at 3 am – we will make that happen! It is that simple.
  • We are a team, not just a team, but #TeamJigsaw. This may sound very cheesy but hopefully, will show you how keen we are to look after our team and involve everyone in the development of Jigsaw Medical. Whether you are working on a Jigsaw ambulance on one of our contracts with an NHS trust or taking a break from front-line work and working with us to provide medical cover at some of the UK’s largest events, we are here for you.
  • We also have clinical & training divisions, meaning we can give you discounted (and sometimes free) CPD courses which we offer to many of our staff that work on Jigsaw Medical’s fleet of Ambulances, either at events, on front-line 999 contracts or on our repatriation & critical care transport service. This also goes for those who work on full-time hours on 999 contracts, who fancy a couple of days doing something different.

What do we do for NHS trusts?

  • As well as fully qualified and certified paramedics, we also provide comprehensive, CQC Registered clinical services, including front-line emergency ambulances with Paramedic crews and all of the drugs & equipment you would expect.
  • In addition, we also have a full-time training team and dedicated training centre, who can provide clinical training services, inductions and assessments as part of our recruitment package – making it fully managed in-house.
  • Our aim is to work with our NHS clients to deliver high-quality, flexible and patient-focused clinical solutions.
  • By using Jigsaw Base we are able to provide you with fully managed client portal services, including the ability to create vacancies for different contracts and locations in the organisation. Creating a truly end-to-end and seamless clinical service.

To find out more about how you can join #TeamJigsaw as a Paramedic, or work with us as a client – please contact our team!