In just one year, 213 ambulance workers in the UK spoke to TASC about having suicidal thoughts. After receiving funding from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), the charity is today launching the Ambulance Staff Crisis Phoneline to help support UK ambulance workers who are feeling suicidal.
Ambulance staff have one of the toughest jobs in the country. As well as life’s usual stresses and strains, the people in our ambulance services also have to deal with long hours, tough working conditions and emotionally-draining call outs.
A study in 2022 also found that paramedics had the most dangerous civilian job in the UK, however, it’s not only road staff who are being affected by their job. Increasing demands on our ambulance services are impacting staff members at all levels and in all types of roles.
These pressures can take a toll on the mental health of the UK’s lifesavers, which has been intensified over the last few years by the Coronavirus, and 77% of ambulance staff have said their mental health has got worse since the start of the pandemic.
TASC is the national charity dedicated to supporting the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of the UK’s ambulance staff. Every year, mental health support is the charity’s most in-demand service and accounts for around 4 in every 5 interventions they provide.
In just one year, 213 ambulance workers from across a wide range of locations, ages and job roles spoke to TASC about having suicidal thoughts, and 1 in 4 of them were actively planning to take their own life.
Angie Crashley, TASC’s Wellbeing Support Manager, said:
Over the years, we’ve seen an increasing number of people coming to TASC because they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts. It’s also not just staff out on the road (such as paramedics) who are struggling; 15% of the people who spoke to us work in an ambulance call/dispatch centre and 10% are managers.
Many people come to us because we’re an independent source of ongoing support, but it was clear that more needed to be done to provide additional in-the-moment help, as well as services that were specifically tailored to people feeling suicidal.
Today, TASC is proud to launch the 24-hour Ambulance Staff Crisis Phoneline to provide immediate and ongoing suicide and mental health care for all UK ambulance staff.
The service includes:
- In-the-moment support to keep people safe and stable. This takes the form of a 24-hour phoneline staffed by qualified counsellors who are experienced in helping people in the blue light services and supported by clinicians.
- Longer-term support once a person is safe and stable, specifically a five-session Collaborative Approach to Managing Suicide (CAMS) support programme, which is tailored for people experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Until now, ambulance staff have had access to a range of in-the-moment support, such as Samaritans and Shout UK, and ongoing-help, such as Occupational Health or TASC’s services. This ground-breaking new service brings everything together to provide a single point of independent support.
The service is available to all ambulance staff in the UK regardless of their job role or length of service. This service is available to staff in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight or Guernsey.
Workers in the UK’s vast private/independent ambulance services are also able to access the Ambulance Staff Crisis Phoneline.
To access the service, call 0300 373 0898 or visit www.theasc.org.uk/crisis to learn more.
This new service is made possible by funding from NHS England and has been commissioned and co-designed by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) on behalf of the ambulance sector. Established in 2011, AACE was created to provide ambulance services with an organisation that can support, coordinate and implement nationally agreed policy. It also provides the general public and other stakeholders with a central resource of information about NHS ambulance services.
Diane Scott, TASC’s Chair and a former Deputy CEO of West Midlands Ambulance Service, said:
At TASC we constantly review and develop our services to respond to the needs of our ambulance community. Thanks to the support from AACE, the plan of a single-point of independent support for people who are experiencing thoughts of suicidality has become a reality.
I am incredibly proud of our TASC team and partners who have worked so hard to launch this service. Together, we will help save lives.
Anna Parry, AACE’S Deputy Managing Director, said:
We are delighted that this 24/7 service is now available for all ambulance service employees and volunteers, whatever their role, to provide support and stability during their times of most need.
We welcome support from across the sector in making sure ambulance service colleagues are aware of this phoneline and encouraged to make use of it when they are in crisis.
Daren Mochrie, AACE’s Chair and the CEO of North West Ambulance Service, said:
The mental health and wellbeing of our employees and volunteers is a priority for AACE and all its constituent members. I am really pleased that this 24/7 service is now available for all our people to provide them with support when they are in need, alongside other local and national initiatives and interventions.
Visit www.theasc.org.uk/crisis to learn more.