Paramedic ambulancePARAMEDICS in Northern Ireland face an “enormous burden of stress”, a trade union’s survey suggests.

Health union Unison said 96 per cent of 248 ambulance workers questioned suffer from work-related stress.

It also said more than 80 per cent of staff had considered quitting their jobs.

And the survey said 71 per cent suffered from sleep problems.

One paramedic told the report’s authors that hospital closures meant they had to drive hundreds of miles every day.

Unison regional organiser Nuala Conlon said pressure on emergency staff was reaching “dangerously high levels”.

“The pressure on workers is mounting and the apparent lack of support from their employers means they are suffering in silence,” she said.

“Year after year, the levels of stress remain unacceptably high and yet neither employers nor the government have done anything to address this.”

John McPoland from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said: “We recognise there is an issue with stress.”

He said the Unison survey backed up previous surveys carried out by employers however, this particular survey quoted much higher levels of stress.

Mr McPoland said steps had been taken to support employees and a health and well-being policy was in place.

“Working in the ambulance service is very, very rewarding but because of the nature of the job, it is very stressful at times.

“The evidence that we have is that we are getting the message across. A recent survey of staff showed that 74% of staff are aware of our counselling service.

“We do take on board that we need to work in partnership with the trade unions to remove the source of stress.”

The Department of Health has said it will consider the report’s findings to ensure front-line staff are given appropriate support.

In a statement, the Department of Health said: “The department looks to all health and social care organisations to ensure that staff working on the front line are given appropriate support to carry out the vital services that they deliver to patients.”

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