Shock figures show emergency stress

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ALMOST a quarter of staff at the North West Ambulance Service in Wigan have been on sick leave for more than a week.

A total of 33 paramedics have taken time off for illnesses in 2015, losing 1,460 days to absenteeism.

In the second part of an Wigan Evening Post investigation, we can reveal this figure appears to have dropped from 2014’s total of 56 employees, which includes technicians and student paramedics based at the Atherton, Billinge, Hindley, Standish and Wigan stations.

In Monday’s paper, we revealed how stressed out firefighters in the borough are taken record amounts of time off.

From January to October five workers signed off work with stress-related problems, with 193 days lost, which remains consistent with 2014.

A spokesman for NWAS said: “The trust welcomes the significant reduction in the number of ambulance staff off sick for more than one week in the Wigan area compared to 2014. The physicality of the work undertaken by our ambulance service staff is very challenging. Moving patients in very physically demanding scenarios, sometimes in very tough conditions and attending what can be traumatic incidents.

“Where an employee reports absence due to stress, it is often a combination of a whole life impact and not necessarily attributable to work. The welfare of staff is something we take very seriously. Where staff are absent, many strands of support are offered both from the Trust directly and from our Occupational Health services.”

Meanwhile, despite recent cuts to Greater Manchester Police, sick leave remains at a steady level over the last four years, with 109 in 2012/13, 110 in 2013/14 and 116 in 2014/15.

Between April and September 84 officers have been on sick leave for more than one week.

A total of 17 officers cited stress as the reason for taking unplanned leave in 2014/15, equalling the same figure in 2013/14 and rising from 12 in 2012/13.

Supt Graeme Openshaw said: “The force continues to make a significant investment into its wellbeing programme to support our staff to stay healthy and maintain good attendance. We have recently changed our approach to the management.”