Researchers at the University of Bradford have worked with Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to understand what can be done to reduce burnout in staff who take 999 ambulance calls. Burnout is caused by continuous exposure to occupational stress. 18 staff were interviewed via telephone. Participants described the challenges of their role, their experiences of burnout and how they coped with this.

Everyone may experience workplace stress at some point, and some of us cope with it better than others. Where continued stress exists, it is important to ensure there are ways to reduce this stress and improve wellbeing. The research team saw that three approaches to reducing stress were characterised in the interviews – those at a societal level, the employer level and individual level. The impact of this led to call handlers seeking help for their workplace stress.

The ambulance 999 call handlers stated that the media reporting of their role was unrealistic and this influenced public’s perception of the job they did. Some staff said that that they feel unsupported and undervalued by both the public and by their employer. There were some suggestions to improve this through their employer working with the public to better inform their understand and expectations of their role.

There was also a need for employers to provide more appropriate help for staff when they need it so that they are able to stay well at work.

Recognising the importance of ambulance 999 call handlers in responding to patients at times of great distress, the authors hope that the City of Research partners will continue to support mental health and wellbeing research to improve the welfare of our healthcare professionals.

You can read more about the study findings here: