Call for probe over ambulance staff’s £65k four-year Gwent hotel stay

Call for probe at ambulance staff’s £65k four-year Gwent hotel stay

Call for probe at ambulance staff’s £65k four-year Gwent hotel stay

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by

AN INVESTIGATION is being demanded over allegations the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) spent £65,000 on putting two senior staff up at a Gwent hotel - one of them allegedly staying there for four years.

Sources within the trust told the Argus that the trust's south east Wales region utilisation manager Gillian Pleming was housed at the Parkway Hotel in Cwmbran on weekdays for the last four years - at the trust's expense. She is now going back to north Wales.

It has also been claimed that Gordon Roberts stayed at the Parkway for a period of time while working as the trust's south east Wales regional director until around 18 months ago when he moved to become north Wales locality manager. The Parkway's standard room rate is currently between £90 and £110 a night during the week.

The claims come in the same week a review of the service was announced by the Welsh government amid budgetary concerns and declining performance, and a probe was launched into how a mum-to-be lost her baby after waiting two hours for an ambulance to take her from Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr to Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital.

One WAST member of staff, based in the Newport area and working on the operational side of the service, told the Argus it was thought the hotel stays had cost around £65,000.

He said: "£65,000 is an ambulance crew's wages for a year. We need more ambulances on the road and more staff recruited to do the job. Morale is very low, sickness is very high. A few people have left and some have taken the early retirement scheme and decided enough is enough."

The staff member said: "It's very difficult to explain to a family why they have waited six or seven hours for their loved one to get an ambulance."

South Wales East Assembly Member Jocelyn Davies has demanded an investigation.

She said: "This exclusive revelation by the South Wales Argus is truly shocking. Can the Ambulance Trust justify such extravagance as a good use of public money? It's time the minister ordered an investigation into the state of the Ambulance service in this country.

"What possible basis can there be for such a long-term relocation of managers from the north to Gwent? I find it unbelievable that in four years no-one from south Wales could be found who could do this job. If the relocation can be justified, then why weren’t more cost-effective ways used?

"I really feel for paramedics on the ground who work tirelessly to save lives. Their morale must be very low in hearing that at a time of cuts, management is spending scarce resources on hotel rooms for years on end."

Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay added: "£65,000 on hotel fees is clearly outrageous. I think members of the public would find it completely inefficient to spend tens of thousands of pounds on hotels when what they really need to address is why we have these gaps. It's the length of time that's the issue in this."

He said he will be raising this with the health minister Lesley Griffiths.

Labour Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle said: "If the allegations are true, then the Ambulance Trust clearly have some serious questions to answer - not least why public money appears to have been wasted at a time when we know the resources of the ambulance service on the ground are being stretched and response time targets are being missed."

We put all the allegations to WAST. It said it does not comment in issues related to individual staff.

Firefighters recruited to help

UNIONS say they are concerned that South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting community responders who would be able to respond to life-threatening calls until an ambulance or rapid response vehicle arrives. An advert says the community responders would be paid an hourly rate of £13.

According to pay scales listed on the Royal College of Nursing website, a newly qualified paramedic earns a basic salary of around £10.85 an hour.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service's assistant chief fire officer Andy Thomas said the funding for a pilot community responder scheme, which it and WAST are looking to introduce over the coming months, has been secured by the South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority and that the rates of pay are based on those of a "competent firefighter".

Carl James, director of strategy, planning and performance at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said the Welsh Government has made it clear that all public services in Wales need to be working in partnership to provide the best possible service to the public.

He said it is working on a number of initiatives with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service including a community responder scheme which he said can be useful at times of high demand or in rural settings.

Unison branch secretary Dylan Parry said a joint union letter from Unite, Unison, the GMB and the Royal College of Nursing, has been sent to WAST's chief executive, Elwyn Price Morris, highlighting their concerns and asking for further immediate discussions.

Mr Parry said: "This is another blow to already low morale particularly being felt in this region. We have staff who are vastly more qualified who earn a lower basic hourly rate than what appears to be offered in this advert to the first responders."

AMs Nick Ramsay, Jocelyn Davies and Lynne Neagle said they were concerned by the news.

Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle added: "I'm really concerned to hear of First Responders being offered higher rates of pay than rank and file ambulance staff - particularly given that we know overtime is being heavily restricted."

She said she will contact local union colleagues and will be raising the issues with the trust and the health minister.

Comments (23)

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10:34am Sat 10 Nov 12

signal box says...

With reference to the artical I'm informed by an in sider that the the Parkway Holiday for the two managers is correct, on the subject of South Wales F & RS providing co-responders
the question of how much do WAST pay Mid & West Wales F & RS for providing co-responders. 1974 saw the end of combined Fire & Ambulance Services in the UK why are they being resusictated. I would ask the Minister responsible at WAG not to whitewash this complete shambles over.
With reference to the artical I'm informed by an in sider that the the Parkway Holiday for the two managers is correct, on the subject of South Wales F & RS providing co-responders the question of how much do WAST pay Mid & West Wales F & RS for providing co-responders. 1974 saw the end of combined Fire & Ambulance Services in the UK why are they being resusictated. I would ask the Minister responsible at WAG not to whitewash this complete shambles over. signal box
  • Score: 0

10:42am Sat 10 Nov 12

chris227 says...

I suspect this is just the tip of the iceburg the WAG's budget now is so big they have to now employ people just to think how they are going to spend the money
I suspect this is just the tip of the iceburg the WAG's budget now is so big they have to now employ people just to think how they are going to spend the money chris227
  • Score: 0

11:07am Sat 10 Nov 12

Aquarius says...

The Trut doesn't have the right not to comment on these allegations. To label them as 'staff matters' is a cowardly way to avoid them.

All the Trust needs to do is to provide it's own figures and then justify them. In the light of recent cuts in overtime which has meant dozens of operational shifts going uncovered and more an more pressure being heaped on both operational and ambulance control staff, that should be an interesting exercise.

But it is only fair that the Trust be allowed to put their case.

Otherwise there is a forthcoming review of the ambulance service, probable demands for an audit, might lead in to an inquiry as to the 'management style' in the Trust, etc etc.

Best for the Trust to come completely clean all on it's own, I think.

I mean, there *might* not be anything to hide, after all...?
The Trut doesn't have the right not to comment on these allegations. To label them as 'staff matters' is a cowardly way to avoid them. All the Trust needs to do is to provide it's own figures and then justify them. In the light of recent cuts in overtime which has meant dozens of operational shifts going uncovered and more an more pressure being heaped on both operational and ambulance control staff, that should be an interesting exercise. But it is only fair that the Trust be allowed to put their case. Otherwise there is a forthcoming review of the ambulance service, probable demands for an audit, might lead in to an inquiry as to the 'management style' in the Trust, etc etc. Best for the Trust to come completely clean all on it's own, I think. I mean, there *might* not be anything to hide, after all...? Aquarius
  • Score: 0

11:41am Sat 10 Nov 12

spanner100 says...

Just how many more"Reviews" ?. Review after review and still the Welsh Ambulance Service is an absolute shambles!.I really feel sorry for the poor Ambulance Crews having to face the Public whilst those who have created this shambles hide, sitting in their "Executive" chairs staring at the wall pondering where to cut next.
Just how many more"Reviews" ?. Review after review and still the Welsh Ambulance Service is an absolute shambles!.I really feel sorry for the poor Ambulance Crews having to face the Public whilst those who have created this shambles hide, sitting in their "Executive" chairs staring at the wall pondering where to cut next. spanner100
  • Score: 0

12:20pm Sat 10 Nov 12

Nospin says...

An absolute bl**dy shambles, when are we going to have a competent minister for health and a 1st minister capable of recognising one.

Of course it would help if year on year WAG stopped treating the WHNS as a cash cow to burgle the budget for social engineering projects.
An absolute bl**dy shambles, when are we going to have a competent minister for health and a 1st minister capable of recognising one. Of course it would help if year on year WAG stopped treating the WHNS as a cash cow to burgle the budget for social engineering projects. Nospin
  • Score: 0

12:27pm Sat 10 Nov 12

PortORico says...

Bureaucracy gone mad. Good to see local politicians asking serious questions. Be interesting to hear the answers!
Bureaucracy gone mad. Good to see local politicians asking serious questions. Be interesting to hear the answers! PortORico
  • Score: 0

1:40pm Sat 10 Nov 12

signal box says...

The shambles that is the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust Board is about as competant as the Department of Transport awarding the West Coast Rail franchise. Don't have a clue about how to run an Ambulance Service bring in Sir Richard Branson.
The shambles that is the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust Board is about as competant as the Department of Transport awarding the West Coast Rail franchise. Don't have a clue about how to run an Ambulance Service bring in Sir Richard Branson. signal box
  • Score: 0

3:41pm Sat 10 Nov 12

erudite says...

As a member of the professional staff within the NHS, I have to commend my ambulance colleagues for their tireless efforts to hold this sad service together. Having been out with them on many an occasion, it soon became apparent that they are not allowed to use common sense within their sphere of practice, but have assinine political rules that they HAVE to obey. These people are intelligent 'angels' to those in distress, but are treated as morons. God bless all our 'angels' and sit up and be counted NHS!!! Stands for 'NO HOPE STATISTICIANS!'
As a member of the professional staff within the NHS, I have to commend my ambulance colleagues for their tireless efforts to hold this sad service together. Having been out with them on many an occasion, it soon became apparent that they are not allowed to use common sense within their sphere of practice, but have assinine political rules that they HAVE to obey. These people are intelligent 'angels' to those in distress, but are treated as morons. God bless all our 'angels' and sit up and be counted NHS!!! Stands for 'NO HOPE STATISTICIANS!' erudite
  • Score: 0

4:14pm Sat 10 Nov 12

Poolerkev says...

What hypocrisy from Nick Ramsey. He takes that amount for himself over the same period to have a second home in Cardiff when he live 40 minutes from it.

Agreed the Parkway was a waste of public funds but no more than the money Ramsey is wasting on himself keeping a second home he really does not need.

Hope if he sells it the money will go back to the tax payer.
What hypocrisy from Nick Ramsey. He takes that amount for himself over the same period to have a second home in Cardiff when he live 40 minutes from it. Agreed the Parkway was a waste of public funds but no more than the money Ramsey is wasting on himself keeping a second home he really does not need. Hope if he sells it the money will go back to the tax payer. Poolerkev
  • Score: 0

6:26pm Sat 10 Nov 12

Magor says...

I have read there are around 100 executives earning around £100k a year in the Welsh NHS that are no longer needed.But because of their gold plated contracts they cant afford to pay them off.
I have read there are around 100 executives earning around £100k a year in the Welsh NHS that are no longer needed.But because of their gold plated contracts they cant afford to pay them off. Magor
  • Score: 0

7:51pm Sat 10 Nov 12

parcel says...

They know how to look after their own, especially if their on the "square"!

Unlike their patients there not in the business to help them!
They know how to look after their own, especially if their on the "square"! Unlike their patients there not in the business to help them! parcel
  • Score: 0

8:08pm Sat 10 Nov 12

signal box says...

Well said parcel I would shake your hand
Well said parcel I would shake your hand signal box
  • Score: 0

8:26pm Sat 10 Nov 12

spanner100 says...

erudite wrote:
As a member of the professional staff within the NHS, I have to commend my ambulance colleagues for their tireless efforts to hold this sad service together. Having been out with them on many an occasion, it soon became apparent that they are not allowed to use common sense within their sphere of practice, but have assinine political rules that they HAVE to obey. These people are intelligent 'angels' to those in distress, but are treated as morons. God bless all our 'angels' and sit up and be counted NHS!!! Stands for 'NO HOPE STATISTICIANS!'
Well done for supporting your "frontline" Staff.They need all the support they can gather.Our life is in their hands!!.
[quote][p][bold]erudite[/bold] wrote: As a member of the professional staff within the NHS, I have to commend my ambulance colleagues for their tireless efforts to hold this sad service together. Having been out with them on many an occasion, it soon became apparent that they are not allowed to use common sense within their sphere of practice, but have assinine political rules that they HAVE to obey. These people are intelligent 'angels' to those in distress, but are treated as morons. God bless all our 'angels' and sit up and be counted NHS!!! Stands for 'NO HOPE STATISTICIANS!'[/p][/quote]Well done for supporting your "frontline" Staff.They need all the support they can gather.Our life is in their hands!!. spanner100
  • Score: 0

9:13pm Sat 10 Nov 12

emlynkide says...

well here we go again, its like a flamine roundabout, i bet you any money they'l say it was value for money, it makes me evel when we hear these stories time and time again, and theres some poor family at there wits end waiting for an ambulance that doesnt turn up, and we get these wasters on there big unfounded pay cheque sitting on there butts doing nothing but think up ways of cutting back on genuing caring staff. thats it they've started me of on one.!
well here we go again, its like a flamine roundabout, i bet you any money they'l say it was value for money, it makes me evel when we hear these stories time and time again, and theres some poor family at there wits end waiting for an ambulance that doesnt turn up, and we get these wasters on there big unfounded pay cheque sitting on there butts doing nothing but think up ways of cutting back on genuing caring staff. thats it they've started me of on one.! emlynkide
  • Score: 0

10:11pm Sat 10 Nov 12

potty71 says...

spanner100 wrote:
erudite wrote:
As a member of the professional staff within the NHS, I have to commend my ambulance colleagues for their tireless efforts to hold this sad service together. Having been out with them on many an occasion, it soon became apparent that they are not allowed to use common sense within their sphere of practice, but have assinine political rules that they HAVE to obey. These people are intelligent 'angels' to those in distress, but are treated as morons. God bless all our 'angels' and sit up and be counted NHS!!! Stands for 'NO HOPE STATISTICIANS!'
Well done for supporting your "frontline" Staff.They need all the support they can gather.Our life is in their hands!!.
I love working for the Ambulance Service, nigh on ten years I agree with Spanner100, ironically i worked in the stats office prior...... TOO MANY (USELESS) CHIEFS. NEVER ENOUGH INDIANS !
[quote][p][bold]spanner100[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]erudite[/bold] wrote: As a member of the professional staff within the NHS, I have to commend my ambulance colleagues for their tireless efforts to hold this sad service together. Having been out with them on many an occasion, it soon became apparent that they are not allowed to use common sense within their sphere of practice, but have assinine political rules that they HAVE to obey. These people are intelligent 'angels' to those in distress, but are treated as morons. God bless all our 'angels' and sit up and be counted NHS!!! Stands for 'NO HOPE STATISTICIANS!'[/p][/quote]Well done for supporting your "frontline" Staff.They need all the support they can gather.Our life is in their hands!!.[/p][/quote]I love working for the Ambulance Service, nigh on ten years I agree with Spanner100, ironically i worked in the stats office prior...... TOO MANY (USELESS) CHIEFS. NEVER ENOUGH INDIANS ! potty71
  • Score: 0

10:18pm Sat 10 Nov 12

Llanmartinangel says...

Magor wrote:
I have read there are around 100 executives earning around £100k a year in the Welsh NHS that are no longer needed.But because of their gold plated contracts they cant afford to pay them off.
That's actually true. I know one of them personally. Removed from role as completely useless and kept on to do a nothing job for the reason you state. Another piece of WAG brilliance.
[quote][p][bold]Magor[/bold] wrote: I have read there are around 100 executives earning around £100k a year in the Welsh NHS that are no longer needed.But because of their gold plated contracts they cant afford to pay them off.[/p][/quote]That's actually true. I know one of them personally. Removed from role as completely useless and kept on to do a nothing job for the reason you state. Another piece of WAG brilliance. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 0

9:35pm Sun 11 Nov 12

Dixie Smith says...

Ask for the information under the Freedom of Information Act and demand a proper investigation with a published report.
Ask for the information under the Freedom of Information Act and demand a proper investigation with a published report. Dixie Smith
  • Score: 0

9:50pm Sun 11 Nov 12

chris227 says...

directors, deputy directors assistant directors good god the civil service
directors, deputy directors assistant directors good god the civil service chris227
  • Score: 0

1:24pm Mon 12 Nov 12

dogone says...

Fire service staff are going to be paid £13 an hour for being community first responders and yet there are people in the community who are already doing this voluntary for free.
Fire service staff are going to be paid £13 an hour for being community first responders and yet there are people in the community who are already doing this voluntary for free. dogone
  • Score: 0

11:09am Thu 22 Nov 12

Gwenter says...

Gwent does not exist. It was a failed local government experiment. Born 1974 to universal hatred. Died 1996 - SIXTEEN YEARS AGO!
Gwent does not exist. It was a failed local government experiment. Born 1974 to universal hatred. Died 1996 - SIXTEEN YEARS AGO! Gwenter
  • Score: 0

6:39pm Sat 8 Dec 12

DafODyl says...

Let's be in no doubt, any manager staying at The Parkway, for however long is staying there with the acceptance & knowledge of the Trust Board! The have Audit Committee's, Open, Closed meetings etc so I am sure it is no surprise to the Board that members of the workforce were staying at The Parkway. I feel what is more interesting is how these spineless individuals now feel they can speak out! Where were they last year, the year before etc?? As I understand it the NHS has a Fraudline, a Whistleblowing Policy, they could have contacted The Argus yet what did they do? NOTHING but now feel they can speak freely! Whatever manager/s stay at hotels it is with their approval of their line manager not because they felt it would be good to spend a few years existing in a hotel (for those who do not spend time in hotels trust me it is not the best experience it's not living it's existing!!!) In terms of value for money, I guess you need sight of hours worked, what the individual contributed etc and can only assume there was VFM otherwise would it have lasted so long? I suppose the other question is how many more, how long, wherelse in Wales?
Let's be in no doubt, any manager staying at The Parkway, for however long is staying there with the acceptance & knowledge of the Trust Board! The have Audit Committee's, Open, Closed meetings etc so I am sure it is no surprise to the Board that members of the workforce were staying at The Parkway. I feel what is more interesting is how these spineless individuals now feel they can speak out! Where were they last year, the year before etc?? As I understand it the NHS has a Fraudline, a Whistleblowing Policy, they could have contacted The Argus yet what did they do? NOTHING but now feel they can speak freely! Whatever manager/s stay at hotels it is with their approval of their line manager not because they felt it would be good to spend a few years existing in a hotel (for those who do not spend time in hotels trust me it is not the best experience it's not living it's existing!!!) In terms of value for money, I guess you need sight of hours worked, what the individual contributed etc and can only assume there was VFM otherwise would it have lasted so long? I suppose the other question is how many more, how long, wherelse in Wales? DafODyl
  • Score: 0

8:26pm Sat 8 Dec 12

signal box says...

Well it's obvious that DafODyl has very little understanding of how people are parachuted into senior positions in the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS. When the two Senior Managers from North Wales arrived the existing post holders were pressurised to leave the service so please do not refer to Ambulance staff as spineless and it appears that you do not have to be a Paramedic or an Emergency Medical Technician to hold a Senior Management position in the service but membership of other orginisations could be an advantage.
Well it's obvious that DafODyl has very little understanding of how people are parachuted into senior positions in the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS. When the two Senior Managers from North Wales arrived the existing post holders were pressurised to leave the service so please do not refer to Ambulance staff as spineless and it appears that you do not have to be a Paramedic or an Emergency Medical Technician to hold a Senior Management position in the service but membership of other orginisations could be an advantage. signal box
  • Score: 0

9:51pm Sat 8 Dec 12

Aquarius says...

The NHS whistleblowing policy isn't worth the paper it's written on, as many staff can attest throughout the NHS. So it's not really applicable.

Likewise, nobody is suggesting that fraud has been committed, so the 'fraudline' is likewise in applicable.

What is being suggested that money that could have been better spent on operational services has been wasted putting staff up in hotels. If these managers were so good, should they not have been relocated permanently?

You have a point when you ask where all these people have been until now before complaining (as I could also ask, DafOdyl, where *you* have been till now....?) and in answer to that I would refer you to the lack of confidence in the NHS whistleblowers policy.

Let's hope people are not given the chance to start discussing the management styles of certain people within this Ambulance Service, because even more will come out.

You wouldn't happen to know any of these people, by any chance, DafOdyl?
The NHS whistleblowing policy isn't worth the paper it's written on, as many staff can attest throughout the NHS. So it's not really applicable. Likewise, nobody is suggesting that fraud has been committed, so the 'fraudline' is likewise in applicable. What is being suggested that money that could have been better spent on operational services has been wasted putting staff up in hotels. If these managers were so good, should they not have been relocated permanently? You have a point when you ask where all these people have been until now before complaining (as I could also ask, DafOdyl, where *you* have been till now....?) and in answer to that I would refer you to the lack of confidence in the NHS whistleblowers policy. Let's hope people are not given the chance to start discussing the management styles of certain people within this Ambulance Service, because even more will come out. You wouldn't happen to know any of these people, by any chance, DafOdyl? Aquarius
  • Score: 0

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