"A number" of staff at a Wiltshire ambulance station have been suspended as bosses probe allegations of a “massive culture” of bullying, intimidation and harassment.

The investigation was launched in Trowbridge after several paramedics working at the 24-hour station in Hilperton Road complained under a confidential Freedom to Speak Up scheme allowing anyone to raise concerns or worries.

The Wiltshire Times understands that five people have been suspended at the facility - now nicknamed by some the 'Mafia Station'.

Jane Whichello, the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust deputy county commander for Wiltshire, confirmed the suspensions in an email to staff last week, seen by the Wiltshire Times.

She said: "Following some concerns raised in relation to Trowbridge Station, a number of individuals have been temporarily suspended from their roles while an investigation takes place.

"Each of these individuals has been appointed a welfare officer to support them through what, will inevitably, be a difficult time for us all.

"These steps are normal practice when concerns are raised to allow the facts to be gathered and does not indicate any confirmed wrongdoing. 

"An independent investigating officer has been appointed to undertake the investigation. This will be Danny Milham, who is the deputy commander for Somerset.

"Please can I ask that, whilst this will prompt questions, that we do not speculate or participate in rumours and let the investigation process run its course." 

A whistleblower, who does not wish to be named for fear of retribution, said: “It has been absolutely unbelievable. It’s been absolutely horrific - people are frightened.

“They have finally taken action and suspended a huge amount of staff pending investigations."

A SWAST spokesperson told the Wiltshire Times: “While we cannot comment on individual staffing matters, we can confirm that SWASFT does not tolerate any form of bullying and harassment in the workplace.

“Any allegations of such behaviour is taken very seriously and we have robust procedures in place for staff to report any concerns.”

The alleged culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation seems to have begun after the death of highly-respected ambulance officer and paramedic Steve Blackmore shortly before Christmas 2018.

Mr Blackmore had completed 40 years of service in a variety of paramedic and managerial roles and had been due to collect his long service award at the staff awards ceremony just before he died of cancer.

The whistleblower said since then a clique made life a misery for other staff who worked at the station.

“It’s pretty awful, to be honest. A lot of people have left. At least ten people have left or moved to other stations," they claimed.

The paramedic said it was “significant” that bosses were now taking their complaints seriously during a period of NHS crisis.

The service is suffering a shortage of staff and vehicles and some patients are experiencing delays in being treated at hospitals because of ambulances queuing to deliver them.

The paramedic alleged: “We have made several complaints over the past two years and the bosses have finally taken action.

“In this day and age, when we are supposed to be kind, caring and compassionate people, the fact is that this culture of bullying and harassment has really not ever been taken seriously.

“Things have got to change. Trowbridge station used to be classed as one of the best stations to work on because we had a great team of really good professional people that would all work together to provide the best for the patients.

“It used to be one big happy family. It needs to go back to being the top station.

“Now its nickname is the ‘Mafia Station’ and nobody wants to work there because they know it has got this culture of bullying.”