Page last updated at 06:02 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 07:02 UK

'Low morale' of ambulance workers

Ambulance (generic)
The service has a modernisation plan in place to help resolve its problems

Ambulance service staff across Wales are suffering from low staff morale, according to a new report.

The assembly audit committee's review of the ambulance service said it needed to develop an action plan to deal with this most challenging of issues.

It said the service needed to improve its communication and resolve apparent bullying and harassment issues.

The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust had no comment to make until after the report was published on Tuesday.

The committee's review of ambulance services in Wales said the trust, which runs the ambulance service across Wales, needed to resolve the "significant internal and external challenges" it faced.

It recommended the morale problem was specifically addressed by improving communication between the trust and operational staff and by addressing perceptions of bullying and harassment.

The report also highlighted the problem of control staff not having access to technology, which allowed them accurately to locate ambulances, as a key priority.

The chief executive and the trust board have done well to respond to what has been an extremely challenging time for the organisation
David Melding AM, audit committee chair

This issue is hampering improvements in the trust's response times and the committee has called strongly recommended that the assembly government consider solving this problem as a matter of urgency.

However, the report said the service had taken some positive steps to addressing its problems but some aspects of its performance remained unacceptable - particularly in south east Wales.

The report concludes that the trust needs time and space to deliver its modernisation plan which will deal with some of the organisational and systemic challenges it needs to tackle in order to make progress.

Committee chair David Melding said: "The chief executive and the trust board have done well to respond to what has been an extremely challenging time for the organisation and they have taken good strides under difficult circumstances.

"We are mindful also that many of the challenges facing the trust are due to systemic problems in the way that the health and social care system operates in Wales which the trust cannot resolve in isolation."

Modernisation plan

The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust said it would not be releasing a statement on the report.

The trust's chief executive Alan Murray is due to appear before the health, well-being and local government committee on Wednesday.

An inquiry into the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, ordered in 2006, highlighted many longstanding and severe problems.

It concluded that these problems could be resolved over time resulting in the trust's response in the form its modernisation plan, Time to Make a Difference, in early 2007.

The current review was commissioned in late 2007 and was asked to take into the progress of the modernisation plan into account.

Earlier this year, Health Minister Edwina Hart gave the trust six months to turn itself around, demanding it improve its services and leadership by Christmas.

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