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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
15 November 2022
Ambulance staff clock up over 3 million hours of overtime in five years

Ambulances parked outside Accident and Emergency department at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, UK | Credit: Alamy

Ambulance staff clock up over 3 million hours of overtime in five years

Ambulance staff have worked over 3 million hours of paid overtime in five years.   

Figures obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed between April and August this year Scottish Ambulance Service staff have carried out over a quarter of a million hours.   

In the last five years, ambulance workers have worked 3,342,486 hours of paid overtime, working out at an average of 612,000 paid overtime hours per year.   

Since 2017, total yearly costs have increased by almost 50 per cent – from around £11.8m in 2017 to £17.5m last year. Total costs in the last five years exceed £78m, and the average daily paid overtime is over 1,600 hours.   

This comes after ambulance staff from GMB Scotland announced a 26-hour strike on 28 November and Unite members announced that they will not work overtime.  

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “These figures are deeply concerning. Not only do they underline the huge impact overtime bans will have on our vital emergency services, but they also show how reliant we have become on the goodwill of exhausted frontline staff.   

“Ambulance staff are used to unimaginable pressure, but years of SNP failures on workforce planning have left them understaffed, overworked and ultimately brought them to breaking point.  

“It’s no wonder paramedics and ambulance workers feel they have no choice but to take industrial action.  

“The SNP is already presiding over a crisis in our A&E departments – strikes and overtime bans in our ambulance service could be utterly devastating this winter.  

“It’s clear that frontline NHS staff – like the rest of the country – have no faith in Humza Yousaf to give them the vital support and fair working conditions they deserve.  

“Humza Yousaf has completely lost the trust of our heroic NHS workers. Nicola Sturgeon must now urgently intervene, sack her incompetent Health Secretary and work to end this damaging dispute before it’s too late.”  

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our recent funding boost to the Scottish Ambulance Service has seen record recruitment of 540 additional ambulance staff last year with further recruitment for this year already underway.  

“The safety of patients is our top priority and while we will do everything possible to avoid strike action, we are working with boards to put detailed contingency plans in place.”

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