Ex-nurse lost mum when she lay on floor waiting for ambulance – South Wales Argus

AN ex-nurse has spoken out in support of ambulance workers on the picket line after she lost her mum when she lay unconscious on the floor for four hours because of delays.
Tania Palmer, 55, last week joined the 20,000 ambulance workers who have walked out over England and Wales today.
The regional manager for UNISON, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, lost her beloved mother Christine Palmer, 77, when she passed away following a stroke in July 2022.
Druring Wednesday’s strike she visited picket lines across the South West to support ambulance service strikes.
Tania, from Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, previously worked for the NHS as a nurse but has been in her current role since 2011.
Tania said: “My mother lay unconscious on the floor for four hours because of the ambulance delays, and she passed away.
“That’s my personal story and why I am out today.
“I moved to the trade union 11 years ago because I wanted to make life better for the staff, and make the provision of care better. I still want to.”
South Wales Argus:
Ambulance workers on the picket line last week. Picture: SWNS
Christine, who had herself been a nurse with the NHS since moving to England from Ireland aged 18 – dedicating 40 years of her life to the service before retiring in her late 50’s.
She said: “Having spoken to lots of staff today, they are striking because they want to protect and preserve the NHS.
“It’s not just about pay and conditions for them, but we need to take a stand.
“Otherwise, we will lose any quality of care these people are proud to provide.”
Tania said she has heard stories of lots of people striking who are in the ambulance services – and spoke of the “physical and emotional toll” they experience due to the situation.
She explained they “can’t continue to go above and beyond without the resources they need”.
Tania said: “What the people striking for today, which better pay will provide, is incentives to work for the NHS.
“Better pay and better conditions will directly result in better patient care – better education and training, more staff, more time and more resources to meet the needs of their roles.
“It’s a desperate situation, this is a last resort. These crews never thought they would be in this position.
“They are taking this action today on behalf of all of society because of the diabolical state the NHS is in.
“They are striking because nothing will get better without action. They are passionate about what they do and want people to understand what is actually going on at the moment.
“Without change, very soon we’ll be dealing with a third-world NHS.
“And without change, more and more people will die.”
Jules Hesketh, 59, has been a paramedic for 11 years, and says his job is now becoming “frustrating” to do.
Jules, from Bristol, said: “It’s not functioning.
“There are not enough people in care so we are holding people on ambulances which when I started was a ‘never event’.
“This didn’t happen until November 2020 and it’s just got worse and worse.
“I pick up one patient and sit in an ambulance with them for the rest of the shift.
“We don’t just go to hospital for fun, people deteriorate.
“We hear a shout out once an hour for a cardiac arrest and no one is free to go.”
Jules, who is on band six for pay, doesn’t have an issue with his salary but says those below on low wages need to be paid more.
“People at the bottom prop this all up.
“The wages are so low they can’t recruit and people have left.
“I love being a paramedic, it’s a fantastic job.
“But we can’t do it.
“If I were in my 20s or 30s I would be considering doing something else.
“But we are providing a minimum level of care on these strike days.
“If people need to call 999 – they should.”
Andy Perris, 60, has been working as a paramedic since 1997, and took to the picket line in Exeter.
He said: “The system is broken.  You tell me how paramedics are supposed to work when they’re waiting for 12 hours to get to a patient, when they’re waiting for mental health teams to address serious issues, without any support on site.
“All our staff are deeply frustrated when they are unable to do their jobs and help patients. That is incredibly frustrating and depressing. It’s not what anybody wants.
“We want to see our staff being paid a fair wage.
“£11.27 an hour is just not good enough for working long hours in such difficult circumstances – it’s just not fair.” 
He is working part time for Unison because “I am at the end of my career, so I’ve got no fear about speaking out”.
He added: “I think it’s important that people do speak about the working conditions we’re in rather than letting things go silence.
“I just want my colleagues and myself to be able to treat patients in a timely and safe manner, but nobody is listening. All we can do is protest.”
He is retiring this summer and added: “I’m saddened that what I love to do has become what it is, to leave it seeing young staff struggling and unable to cope in a broken system.”
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