This is a question that is coming up a lot now in hospital corridors where ambulance staff gather and meet. It used to be the mess rooms where we met and got things off our chests but we spend very little time on station now so hospital corridors are the new mess rooms.
A particularly disgusting clip of MPs cheering as a motion to end the public sector pay cap of 1% was voted against is currently circulating on social media. Cheering??!! I can accept that as part of the democratic process some decisions in parliament will not go the way I would like. I would have been angry about the defeat of the motion if it had been carried out in a mature, professional way as a logical economical decision. But to cheer?? That smacks of contempt for everyone in the public sector.
The hypocrisy is overwhelming; some of these politicians were the loudest voices to praise the ‘invaluable work’ of the emergency services and hospitals in the aftermath of the recent terrorist incidents in London and Manchester and the horrific flat fire in London. The same MPs no doubt cheered equally loudly as they accepted their 11% rise last year.
It’s no surprise that public sector workers feel undervalued. Should we though?
In the aftermath of the recent events many of the public expressed their appreciation of the work we do; food deliveries to the stations in our group from a local supermarket, offers of cups of coffee and cakes, free chips, cards and messages posted through the station door. I know that these grateful people also appreciate the other emergency services and public sector workers also. On a day to day basis working with the public working to uphold the nhs values I feel generally valued. Most of the people we get to appreciate and are grateful to us. There are obviously the exceptions, the drunks and drug fueled street warriors and certain people who are very aware of their ‘rights’ (don’t seem to be as aware of their responsibilities however) and are not satisfied that they are being adequately met. This has always been the case though and I can’t see it changing.
I am happy to say that in my area, support for staff affected by the terror incident is ongoing. Frankly I have never seen support offered at this level before and I sincerely hope it continues and helps.
Are we valued by our managers? Controversial question I know. I can only speak from my own experience and say a definitive yes and no. I personally have decided that paramedic is the level I want to stay at. I’ve never had the desire for bars or pips. A brief flirtation with the idea of getting into training was thankfully beaten out of me several years ago and I came to my senses. I have very little contact with any managers other than the team leaders immediately above me. I do feel valued by them most of the time. I’m lucky though, I enjoy good health. I have seen colleagues falling on hard times with periods of sickness not treated so well. The current sickness policy or perhaps the way it’s implemented can seem punitive and at times harsh. Again this starts to trigger my hypocrisy alarm. The Emergency services are pushing various initiatives aimed at maintaining and supporting the good mental health of staff and yet the thought of the disciplinary policy triggered by spells of absence from work are hardly the way to sooth anxiety or help lift the depressed out of a low mood so they can resume the challenges of emergency work.
Personally I feel I’m more than just a paramedic. I’m a dad, a son, a brother, a partner, a neighbour. In all these roles I definitely feel valued. Even when my kids were teenagers I still felt valued as their dad.
To sum up:
A feeling of value is best when not dependant on external factors such as money. Frustrating to hear I know but bear with me here. If money were a measure of value then among the most valued professions in the country would be premier league footballers, financial brokers and politicians. Really? From chatting with patients over the years maybe footballers are valued (with our younger football fans) but financial brokers? Not many patients class them as valuable, most see them as the cause of the austerity requirements. Politicians? Maybe the 650 MPs and their families value them but would but I’ve never met anyone else who does.
Everyone in the public sector should hold their heads high and value their self. Politicians come and go but the emergency services will always be here responding thanks to the high value of our staff.