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Ambulance company apologizes after medics work 20-hour shift

The paramedics were forced to work a 20-hour shift to transport a patient; officials said crews regularly work shifts of more than 15 hours

NORFOLK, England —An ambulance company has apologized after paramedics were forced to complete a 20-hour shift to transport a patient.

The Guardian reported the medics were working for the East of England Ambulance service when they were told to make a 270-mile round trip to London for the emergency transport of a patient.

The paramedics started their shift at 6 p.m. and had transported the patient to the hospital by 6:30 a.m. the next morning.  They were not able to drive back and finish their shift until 2:30 p.m.

“It’s exhausting being at work for over 20 hours and I’ve had ongoing sleep and health problems as a result. Late finishes are a huge problem in our trust. Many colleagues have left the service as a result of this issue,” one crew member said.

In a statement, the East of England Ambulance company said the incident was mishandled.

"We have investigated this case and it should have been proactively managed to help get the crew home once they handed over their patient at 6.30am in London.”

Paramedics working for the company said crews regularly work shifts of more than 15 hours.

In January, 3,693 East of England ambulance staff was forced to stay late, with 215 working more than three hours of overtime. In the last year, more than 300 have left the ambulance service. A recent staff survey cited enforced overtime as the number one cause of stress.

“Staff are the ambulance trust’s greatest asset and they need to be supported. I’m really worried that the strain they are working under is unsustainable. The continued lack of traction in dealing with enforced overtime is very concerning,” former health secretary Norman Lamb said.

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