Arrives in 1hr
People die as we try to get there in time
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
nicola.small@ trinitymirror.com 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