UNISON lone worker grievance upheld

The collective grievance from north Norfolk over enforced lone working has been upheld.

The outcome means that the new policy put forwards by UNISON last year has been adopted in full; the new policy went live on the Trust website today:


The policy is based on the West Midlands lone worker policy and also incorporates learning from:

  • staff feedback and concerns raised by new staff over enforced lone working.
  • dignity at work complaints where managers have been unsupportive.
  • exit interviews where staff cited enforced lone working.
  • x3 historical collective grievances over enforced lone working – B&H, Cambs, and Norfolk.
  • B&H SOG 2.4
  • OI-142
  • Essex OP/017 from 2005.
  • UNISON Put back the heart survey.

The new policy states:

7.6 Staff who find themselves working alone but are not normally employed to do so:

7.6.1 It is important to recognise that not all staff are comfortable working alone and therefore all steps must be made to ensure in such circumstances staff are supported accordingly.  

7.6.2 Where a member of staff finds they are working alone, for example, where a crew member commences duty to find they are solo crewed, they will immediately ensure that EOC (or line manager in the case of non operational staff) are aware. 

7.6.3 A&E staff that do not normally work alone have the right to decline to do so. Discussions between the lone worker, the EOC and local management teams will always bring about a satisfactory conclusion. Where staff have declined to work alone they may either: 

  • Crew with another suitably skilled lone worker who is also solo. 
  • Be crewed on an alternative vehicle where the crew on that vehicle are happy to be separated, and one member  will operate as a lone worker. 
  • Be crewed on an Ambulance with a Solo Responder. This will be undertaken with mutual agreement between all parties. 
  • Undertake 3rd manning with another crew at the discretion of the Senior Manager or Duty Manager on call for each locality. 

7.7  It is accepted that public perception where an emergency ambulance vehicle arrives at the scene of an incident could be that the responder should be able to convey the patient. Where a crew member finds themselves single crewed and are happy to operate as a lone worker but not utilising an Emergency Ambulance Vehicle EOC / Operational Managers will identify a response car for the member of staff to use.

The joint chairs of SPF will review any concerns after 3 months – and any future policy changes will be negotiated in the normal way through the Trust’s policy group.

I’m very grateful to the norfolk staff who stood their ground over this issue and for the panel who reached a fair and supportive decision.

If you have been affected by lone worker issues, please contact your local UNISON representative for support.

Kind regards,


Fraer Stevenson UNISON Branch Secretary

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2 Responses to UNISON lone worker grievance upheld

  1. Jeff Gorman says:

    Well done UNISON! It is about time that an ambulance Trust recognised that it is unsafe to solo respond on an EA.


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