Ar­rives in 1hr

Peo­ple die as we try to get there in time

Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

waited for two hours. Dr Adrian Boyle, of the Royal Col­lege of Emer­gency Medicine, said re­sponse times would get worse un­less Theresa May fixes the bed-block­ing cri­sis.

He said: “The big­gest prob­lem is that paramedics get to hos­pi­tal and are un­able to off­load their pa­tients promptly and so get stuck there.” Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice, 500,000 am­bu­lance hours were lost last year due to such de­lays.

Bed-block­ing arises when pa­tients are med­i­cally fit to be dis­charged but there is no care pack­age in place for them in the com­mu­nity.

Dr Boyle said “poorly trained” call han­dlers man­ning the NHS 111 helpline were “despatch­ing am­bu­lances too read­ily” for pa­tients who were not pri­or­ity cases.

Re­hana Azam, of the am­bu­lance work­ers’ union GMB, said our find­ings showed “how lives are put at risk ev­ery day by Tory aus­ter­ity poli­cies”.

She pointed to Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice fig­ures show­ing fund­ing for emer­gency am­bu­lance ac­tiv­ity rose 16 per cent while calls went up 30 per cent. Ms Azam said: “The per­for­mance of paramedics is un­der­mined be­cause fund­ing hasn’t kept pace with de­mand.”

She said the cri­sis was made worse by prob­lems re­tain­ing burnt-out paramedics and fill­ing jobs.

Lat­est of­fi­cial data shows there were 967 paramedic va­can­cies in Eng­land in March this year.

Rachel Power, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Pa­tients As­so­ci­a­tion, said pa­tients were “suf­fer­ing need­lessly”.

NHS Eng­land is rolling out new am­bu­lance stan­dards af­ter an 18-month trial in­volv­ing 14 mil­lion 999 calls showed it could save 250 lives a year.

The new scheme will see av­er­age re­sponse times set at seven min­utes. But if an un­suit­able ve­hi­cle for the emer­gency ar­rives, the clock keeps tick­ing un­til the cor­rect

type ar­rives.

ni­cola.small@ trin­i­tymir­ Paramedic and GMB rep Dave Har­ris is 48 and works on The Wir­ral. We can’t cope with the de­mand any more. The num­ber of calls has gone up and this hasn’t been matched with ex­tra re­sources. I know that pa­tients are dy­ing be­cause we are not get­ting there in time.

I re­sponded to a lady who was in car­diac ar­rest. I was by my­self and started CPR as soon as I got there.

It was another 45 to 50 min­utes be­fore the am­bu­lance ar­rived and it was too late. She was dead on ar­rival at hos­pi­tal.

Be­cause I was by my­self all I could do was CPR. But if the am­bu­lance had ar­rived we could have done things like in­sert a tube in her tra­chea to sup­port her breath­ing and get IV ac­cess to ad­min­is­ter drugs to a vein.

It is dev­as­tat­ing for paramedics. We signed up to the job be­cause we wanted to make a dif­fer­ence and save lives. But the re­sources just aren’t there any more.

We need more am­bu­lances and more trained staff – not just paramedics, but call han­dlers too.

I know those who are tak­ing the emer­gency calls sim­ply can’t keep up with the amount of calls com­ing in.

Hos­pi­tal A&Es are full and that means paramedics are get­ting stuck in queues to off­load their pa­tients.

The long­est I’ve had to wait was eight hours. All the time calls were com­ing in that I wasn’t able to re­spond to. I can’t ex­press how frus­trat­ing and stress­ful it is.

It is a worry to think how many fam­i­lies are in same sit­u­a­tion JO NEED­HAM NURSE WHOSE UN­CLE DIED

RE­SPOND­ING Medics treat­ing a pa­tient in­side an am­bu­lance BAT­TLING THE TIDE Dave says crews face big de­mand

De­lays in care pack­ages lead to bed-block­ing on wards

Pa­tients in A&E who could go to wards have to stay in ca­su­alty unit

Ar­riv­ing am­bu­lances can’t de­liver crit­i­cal pa­tients as A&E is full

Queues build up out­side and crews can­not move on to their next jobs

DE­LAY Jack’s fam­ily made four 999 calls

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