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Deadline: 31 October 2020
Tackling resilience and wellbeing issues
in emergency services and dealing with the COVID-19 crisis at the front line
Despite the global nature of emergency services, a broad, interdisciplinary approach to management inquiry is a relatively recent phenomenon. The fragmented nature of the emergency community, different organizational and funding models, private and public providers, are just some of the reasons. Academic contributions are also characterized by a strong theory–practice divide, with the continuing domination of profession-based publications with little overlap and limited understanding of the wider context. The global picture of organization and governance within this sector is complicated and under-researched.
In the UK, the current models of service delivery and management do not always reflect considerable changes to the working patterns and the nature of demand on these organizations. Recent evidence from the UK suggests that ambulance demand is growing, with an average annual increase of 5–6%, but only 10% of the people dialling the emergency service line have a life-threatening emergency. Recorded crimes are falling, but crime complexity has increased. Police forces are now dealing with increasing number of incidents involving mental health issues, crimes related to child and sexual abuse inquiries, cybercrime, security and terrorism cases.
Workforce support continues to remain a neglected management priority given the operational focus of these services. The impact of increasing service demands on workforce wellbeing and organizational resilience is being reported more frequently in the context of the three ‘blue light’ services. Supporting the workforce and dealing with staff issues appears to be a neglected management priority, with limited evidence of staff engagement in the design of organizational systems. Staff sickness is highest amongst ambulance services within the UK NHS and retention and recruitment are proving difficult, with cases of shortage of paramedic staff reported nationally. Cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress-related illness in emergency workers are widespread. Harassment and bullying instances are reported in the media and appear in official reports. It is likely that similar challenges are being witnessed by blue light services in different parts of the world and the PMM theme will help to foster debate and further research on these important issues.
The objectives of this PMM theme are:
- To address the research gap in resilience and wellbeing issues in the emergency services within the wider public management literature.
- To analyse the particular challenges facing the emergency services workforce in the era of budgetary pressures and economic instability.
- To critically evaluate and compare the best practice(s) in supporting emergency services workforce in helping build resilience and promoting wellbeing.
The guest editors welcome papers (but will not be limited to) dealing with the following themes in the police, ambulance and fire and rescue services:
- Workforce resilience and wellbeing.
- Harassment and bullying.
- Sickness absence and absenteeism.
- Mental health, stress and PTSD.
- Recruitment and retention challenges.
- Equality and diversity challenges.
- Implications for organizational productivity and resilience management.
- Organizational culture(s) and leadership roles and requirements.
- Changing professional identities.
- Role of technology in driving innovation.
- Professionalization and modernization challenges.
- Performance metrics.
Please review our Instructions for Authors page for further information on submission requirements.
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Paresh Wankhade is a Professor of Leadership and Management at Edge Hill University Business School, UK. He is the Programme Leader for the UK’s first bespoke Professional Doctorate in Emergency Services Management. He is also the Editor-In-Chief of the International Journal of Emergency Services. His research and publications focus on analyses of strategic leadership, organizational culture, organizational change and interoperability within the public services with a focus on blue light services. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Pete Murphy is Professor of Public Policy and Management and Head of Research at Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University. He is Vice Chair (Research) of the Public Administration Committee of the Joint Universities Council, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Public Scrutiny. Prior to joining Nottingham Business School in 2009, he was a senior civil servant and is a former chief executive of Melton Borough Council in Leicestershire. His current research focuses on public policy, public assurance and the governance, scrutiny and value-for-money arrangements of locally-delivered public services. He can be contacted at [email protected]