We are going through a funny period within the London Ambulance Service. Demand is rising, staff are being stretched (and still leaving), the Press are waiting for our next target failure, the CQC are still all over us like a rash and yet, and yet…tumbleweeds are blowing through Waterloo Headquarters!

We seem to be in a vacuum, a void, waiting for something to happen, waiting to see who makes the first move, like an old spaghetti western (tumbleweed), watching to see who will ride into town (tumbleweed), hoping it’s the cavalry with reinforcements (tumbleweed) circle the wagons…

Well snap out of it! It ain’t going to happen. No one is going to ride in and save us! If we need saving, us, and only us, can do the saving.

When I say ‘us’ I am referring to everyone that works within the Service. We are the only ones who can pick our Service up, shake it about, and put it back down on the right track.

It doesn’t help of course, that at the time of writing, we still haven’t had any official, formal announcement regarding the appointment of a permanant Chief Executive.

Now we may all know (or think we know) who has got the job, but until it is made official, we still have an interim Chief Executive.

It is not good enough! It is holding things back. It is disgraceful that staff of the Capital City’s Ambulance Service still don’t know who their most senior manager is!

To use the parlance of modern football speak – we have a false number one!

More worrying for the Union though is that somewhere inside this void, our ‘London Package’ is floating aimlessly around.

The London Package is the name given to the set of demands and actions that I wrote to the previous Chief Executive, on behalf of Unison, in an attempt to help with the Recruitment and Retention crisis.

In summary this is the list:

  • All Paramedics at Band 6.
  • A re-think of the Senior Paramedic role.
  • Technicians future to be secured.
  • Make it easier, and affordable, for our own staff to study to become Paramedics.
  • Make it financially attractive for all staff to stay with LAS.
  • Create a unique London Package for all our staff that recognises the stresses and strains of working in London.

In fairness not everything on that list has stood still, but the majority of it hasn’t seen the light of day.

Time is running out. While patients are increasing, our patience is decreasing!

We all have a responsibility to take our Service forward and make sure it becomes the Service of choice to work in.

We all have a responsibility to repair the damage that the last few years have brought. Although it would help if some responsibility for the damage was accepted in the first place.

Senior Management, particularly some of the Executive Management Team (EMT) need to understand that they are not working in any old Ambulance Service, but the London Ambulance Service! (with apologies to any old Ambulance Service!).

A Service with a history and a vibrant past. A Service with people, not robots. A Service with remarkable loyal staff who are being tainted and demoralised by our fall from grace. 

We can remember the past, but it is difficult to visualise the future at the moment.

Someone has to make the first move, but wouldn’t it be better if we made it together!

Sweep away the tumbleweed, embrace the London Package, sign a permanent number one, and return this Service (our Service) to where it should be: not at the bottom of league tables, not on the front page of the Standard (for the wrong reasons) but at the top of the pile!

Let’s bring the love back into London Ambulance.

LAS UNISON is the Bulldog Branch. Let’s be the Bulldog Service!


Information on all issues can be found elsewhere on our website.


If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!

We are stronger together.

Eric Roberts

Branch Secretary.