The NHS came to the rescue of so many during the Covid pandemic - everyone clapped to show appreciation.

One group of workers, little known to the public, were the Ambulance Care Assistants (ACA).

These brave people move patients to and from the hospitals.

There is a need for mental and physical toughness, among ACAs, who witness trauma on a daily basis.

The challenge of the work involved was illustrated in actor, writer and ACA, Marissa Landy’s excellent play, Non-Emergency.

The play debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe and more recently ran as part of the Wanstead Fringe.

The play tells of the difficulties and challenges of working as an ACA during the pandemic.

There was laughter and tears, as staff and patients took on adversity.

Marissa recently told of the limited training given to ACAs before they are thrown into the front line - just three weeks.

She struggled to find Personal Protection Equipment during the pandemic.

On one occasion, she and another ACA struggled on the stairs with an immobilised, heavy patient - the only way was up, otherwise all could have fallen down the stairs, sustaining serious injuries or worse.

What the ACAs do is vital, yet they seem to be treated as one of the lowest in the food chain by the NHS.

The service is contracted out to private companies, who pay just £11.01 an hour, making life incredibly difficult, especially during these inflation ravaged times.

The ACAs have become frustrated by their lot - doing a dangerous but vital job, rewarded with applause but not money.

There is a high turnover among ACAs as a result.

Backed by the GMB union, Marissa and the Baloney Theatre Company, who put on Non -Emergency, have established a petition calling for the private companies to increase ACA pay to NHS levels of £12.30 an hour in London (£11.79 outside).

Even, this demand is modest, given the Labour Party has discussed bringing in a £15 an hour minimum wage, if elected to government.

The ACAs deserve everyone’s support, they do a vital job and should be paid accordingly.

Please support the campaign by signing the petition at

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See