Exclusive: Cash-strapped ambulance service pays £600k compensation to own staff

YORKSHIRE Ambulance Service has paid out more than £600,000 in compensation to staff injured at work over the past two years, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Library picture: Emergency Services line up in a training exercise at York

And the total bill to be public purse is likely to be much higher as this six-figure sum only relates to the excess insurance payments which the trust is responsible for.

Between January 2014 and January 2015, employees injured while working were paid £385,708 and between 2015 and 2016 the bill was £225,931.

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Yorkshire Ambulance Service was responsible for paying the first £10,000 of any claim with the rest of the bill picked up through the NHS Litigation Authority on their behalf.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, come as the NHS is facing huge financial problems, prompting fears about patient care.

Kevin Fairfax, UNISON Branch Secretary, said the trust was too slow to tackle problems which ultimately impacted on the service provided.

He said: “As a union we have raised through our health and safety representatives numerous issues that have caused our members harm, usually faulty or not fit for purpose equipment. It seems to us that the trust are far too slow to react to these situations which in turn increases the number of injuries and hence claims.

“Safety at work should be a priority, by not listening to UNISON’S accredited health and safety representatives, who also work on the front line, when concerns are raised, the trust is failing our members and ultimately the service provided to the public of Yorkshire.”

Personal injury claims by patients and members of the public for problems such as slips or trips or falls also cost the trust more than £17,000 in 2015-2015 and more than £15,000 in 2015-2016. In these cases the trust paid the first £3,000 of any claim.

And a further £6,600 was paid for claims such as lost or damaged property belonging to both patients and staff.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said every penny paid out was money taken away from frontline services.

He said: “Bosses at the trust must do their best to ensure they live up to the legal standards as required by law, while accepting that accidents do happen.

“Of course some of the payments will be entirely justified, and concerns must be listened to when they are raised as the most serious accidents can ruin lives. But the trust must also root out those who are playing the system with spurious demands for taxpayers’ cash as every penny paid out in compensation is a penny taken away from frontline services.”

The figures are for claims that were settled that year and do not always reflect when the claim was originally made.

Steve Page, executive director of quality, governance and performance assurance at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said improvements had been made.

“The trust actively uses feedback from staff and learning from incidents and near misses to identify areas where staff safety can be improved,“ he said.

“Over the last year we have worked closely with staff representatives to introduce changes to trust vehicles and equipment which have had a positive impact on the levels of associated staff injury.”