Ambulance Delays – A Slight Return

Back in October I brought you a blog on the delays experienced by Ambulance crews when they delivered their patient to hospital.  I thought that time might be right to revisit that subject and see if the problem has improved.  Well, it seems that Bob Hope has left town.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was this article in the Mirror on the 27th of December.  It seems that thousands of patients have been waiting in ­ambulance queues outside hospitals this Christmas because casualty departments are too busy to admit them.

As David Cameron’s cuts leave staffing levels at breaking point, ­official data obtained by the Mirror shows many patients who dial 999 are being failed despite being rushed to hospital by paramedics.

More than 35,000 ambulances have been forced to wait more than 30 minutes outside a hospital in just the last six weeks.  Department of Health data reveals more than half a million people endured longer than four hours’ wait in emergency units since the start of the year, and more than 19,000 people have suffered agonising “trolley waits” in the last six weeks, where patients waited over four hours to be admitted or treated after being seen by A&E.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, said: “These scenarios are becoming the norm, rather than the exception, which is simply disgraceful.

“Waiting means huge stress, ­discomfort and pain to those already feeling unwell. Ambulances and A&E departments must be fast lane NHS services putting patient safety first.

The Government can no longer ignore the devastating impact of its £20billion cuts.”

Bet they can.

Not a very propitious start to my quest,

On the very same day, my attention was drawn to Suffolk, where, apparently, the Police think that there aren’t enough Ambulance crews.  That is the concern voiced by Suffolk Police Federation after it emerged there had been 12 occasions when officers had stepped in for such journeys over an eight-week period.POLICE officers in Suffolk have felt compelled to transport the ill and injured to hospital because they did not believe ambulances would arrive on time.

Now this will not please our beloved Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, because she has publicly stated that she has given the Police single objective – to cut crime.

Sorry Theresa, taking seriously ill or injured people to hospital has got naff all to do with reducing crime, but that’s not all the Police do, you should know that.

Matt Gould, chairman of the county’s police federation, stressed its issue was not with the ambulance crews, saying his members had the highest regard for their work.

He was, however, concerned at a perceived lack of ambulance resources – and while accepting police have a duty to preserve life, Mr Gould is worried about officers finding themselves at the centre of an inquiry if something should go wrong when taking a patient to hospital.

Mr Gould said: “Police officers may well find themselves in a very difficult position, knowing that to save life is a primary duty but not being equipped to do this.

Next up came an article from earlier in the month about waiting times at James Cook Hospital in Teeside.  Now I know Teeside is oop North, but this cannot be acceptable;

A total of 10 ambulances were waiting at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital at 2.55pm on Monday (the 10th I believe) – four of which had been waiting for more than an hour – according to a spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).  The latest concerns come less than three months after the Gazette reported ambulances being delayed at James Cook for two-and-a-half hours, as they waited to admit patients on September 27.

Surely this is an indication that things have got worse, not better, although I do accept that we are now further into winter.

Right, off we go to jolly old Clacton where we find a lady waiting for two hours for an ambulance having suffered a broken hip – painful I believe.

The lady, aged 93, slipped and fell in her bathroom at a care home in Frinton on December 7.

She was discovered by carers a short time later and an ambulance was called just before 7.40pm.

Carers suspected she had fractured her hip so they did not move her.

After repeated phone calls an ambulance eventually arrived at 9.54pm, by which time the lady had been on the floor for more than two and a quarter hours.

Then we cross the country, back to Morecambe, where two MPs have blasted the North West Ambulance Service after a pensioner had to wait more than three hours in agony with a broken leg.

An ambulance took three-and-a-half hours to respond when the lady, aged 90, slipped and broke her femur (painful again) at her Bolton-le-Sands home.

A spokesman from the North West Ambulance Service said: “The trust offers its sincere apologies for the distress that was caused for the patient or her family whilst waiting for an ambulance.

“We are undertaking a full investigation into this incident and the reasons for the delay and once this is complete, we shall share our findings with the family.”

The last word has to go to Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals.  In an article published in the Grauniad he said that “The public need to accept the closure of many hospital units and live healthier lives if they want the health service to survive.  Hospitals will have to provide fewer services and beds if the NHS is to cope with growing demand caused by the ageing population”

I can only apologise to Mr Farrar for still being alive, a terrible faux pas on my part.  When I joined the Job life expectancy post retirement was 7 years, so I’m over that and I now know what to expect,  His bio according to Wiki had me in stitches (no pun intended)

During his time at the Department of Health, he was responsible for establishing Primary Care Groups, Primary Care Trusts and PMS. In addition he chaired the NHS Confederation GP Contract negotiating team that successfully negotiated the new General Medical Service contract and is the National Programme Director of NHS Live.

Farrar’s first position with the NHS was as a gardener at somewhere called Rochdale, Rochdale Infirmary between 1977 and 1979. In 1982 he joined Rochdale Health Authority as a health promotion officer and then went on to set up an alcohol and drug service for Yorkshire. Further positions included chief executive of Tees Health Authority, head of primary care at the Department of Health and chief executive at South Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority and West Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority. On 1 July 2006, he became Chief Executive of NHS North West, the new Strategic Health Authority for North West England, as part of the new centralised SHA structure.

Your NHS is in safe hands, Dave told us so in 2006, the same year he began plotting the downfall of Her Majesty’s Constabulary (n.b. NOT the Government’s Constabulary).

“When your family relies on the NHS all of the time – day after day, night after night – you know how precious it is.

“So, for me, it is not just a question of saying the NHS is safe in my hands – of course it will be. My family is so often in the hands of the NHS, so I want them to be safe there.”

He promised “no more pointless and disruptive reorganisations“. Instead, change would be “driven by the wishes and needs of NHS professionals and patients“.

Maybe he should have included Think Tanks and private healthcare providers in that sentence because I do not believe that any of the above can be seen as driven by the wishes and needs of NHS professionals & Patients!


2 thoughts on “Ambulance Delays – A Slight Return

  1. Pingback: Ambulance Delays, the Police and the Chaos Theory | The Big Picture

  2. Pingback: Whyfor No Ambulances? | The Big Picture

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