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Staff go extra mile during big freeze

Press release - 7 January 2010

The big freeze is bringing out the warm hearted-nature of South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SECAmb) staff.

Staff from one station in Surrey have been spending nights sleeping at the station to be sure they are available for their shifts.

Phil Hunter spent two nights sleeping at Farnborough station so that he could start his shift in the morning. Hilary Inglis has also spent a night sleeping at the station.

Clinical operations manager, Nigel Stock said: “We’ve seen some wonderful examples of staff going that extra mile to be available to respond to patients.

“Phil and Hilary couldn’t guarantee that they could get into work due to the conditions and so to be sure they could work they both decided to stay at the station.

“When they haven’t been working, they have been helping keep the station accesses clear and just generally helping out. Both have families so this has been a real sacrifice for them.”

Other staff have also given up their annual leave and turned up at stations to offer their support.

SECAmb’s Director of Operations, Sue Harris said: “Patients always come first. We have 3,500 staff that all come to work to do a great job, and are continuing to do so despite these challenging conditions. Many are going above and beyond the call of duty to reach patients and continue to provide a safe and responsive service.

“We have robust plans in place to deal with such difficult conditions but we need the public’s understanding and support too. People can help by only calling us in the case of a life-threatening emergency. We would ask the public to please contact NHS direct for all other medical advice needs.”

Between 7am and 9am on Wednesday, 6 January, SECAmb saw a 37 per cent increase in calls on previous day and 20 per cent increase in incidents.

The control centre at Banstead, saw calls up by 50 per cent and incidents by 31 per cent; in Lewes control centre, calls were up by 51per cent and incidents by19 per cent; and at the control centre in Coxheath, calls were up by 16 per cent and incidents by 15 per cent

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