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Lives put at risk as ambulance crews told they can no longer ask for "fatigue breaks"

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Paramedics warn lives could be lost after they were stopped from taking “exhaustion” breaks.Ambulance crews are entitled to breaks totalling 40 minutes in a 12- hour shift but often miss out as they are so busy with emergencies.Previously, workers were able to cite fatigue so they could take a break but now the Scottish Ambulance Service has removed this right as it trials a system aimed at ensuring staff get enough rest.Now they say new arrangements could lead to them making mistakes when treating patients or while driving.One ambulance worker, who asked not to be named, said: “I worked 10-and-a- half hours with absolutely no breaks so I told control I was fatigued but I was told the fatigue policy no longer applied.“This is happening during a trial which is supposed to ensure we all get our breaks but we’ve seen no evidence of anything changing on the road.“If you are dealing with a critically ill patient, you have to make clinical judgments and if you are mentally exhausted the chance of making a mistake becomes higher.“The breaks are there to make sure you can do the job properly.”The paramedic said the first break on shift should be about three to five hours in, with the second after seven to nine hours.

But he said: “By 10-and-a-half hours I had passed both these break times and had still not been offered a rest period.“We were at a hospital and had just handed over a patient and both I and the other crew member were fatigued so I asked for the fatigue policy to be applied so we could go back to the station but we were told to work on.”Finally, 40 minutes before the shift ended, the men were allowed a break.

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