Ambulance crews 'beyond breaking point'

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 October 2012

PARAMEDICS have hit out at ambulance bosses - claiming they are already "beyond breaking point" on the eve of further cuts in Welwyn Hatfield.

An expose in last week’s Welwyn Hatfield Times revealed that critical patients were already waiting hours for ambulances and it is feared the East of England Ambulance Service plans to slash ambulance hours will make things worse.

Several medics got in touch after the story and said their working conditions are “horrendous”.

An anonymous ambulance insider said: “We have been a Cinderella service for years, basically we have not got the resources with considerably affect on services.

“It is just horrendous, absolutely horrendous all the time. They will send the cars out on critical calls and we have no ambulances a lot of the time.

“There might be someone there who is critical but we don’t have the resources.

“They will request an ambulance and sometimes lone paramedics wait for hours with patients who are not critical.”

If the East of England Ambulance Service Trust’s plans go ahead, one of WGC’s double staffed ambulances will have its on call hours reduced from 20 to nine.

The remaining one would work 24 hours a day, but critics warn the move could lead to a reliance on rapid response cars, which cannot transport critical patients to hospital.

It could also lose its Emergency Care Practitioners – who refer patients to relevant services to free up paramedics’ time.

Blogger Mathew Westhorpe used to answer blue light calls in Times Territory and his Broken Paramedic site paints a bleak picture of life inside the ambulance service.

He told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “They are pushing the crews harder and harder – they are beyond breaking point.

“They are making decisions and they can’t think, they are exhausted.

“We are driving speedy vehicles and making life or death decisions without the capacity to think clearly.

“There are not enough people and there are not enough ambulances.”

This week the ambulance service claimed 99 per cent of ambulance users who were surveyed would recommend service and it urged staff to take up any concerns with their line managers.

Gary Sanderson, ambulance service spokesman, said: “We are all aware that paramedics, fire-fighters and police officers often work under pressure and work hard in the communities they serve, however our staff are only assigned to another call when they have informed the control room they are ready and available and we have robust meal break and rest day policies in place to ensure they get the recuperation they need.

“If there are any individual issues then we would urge those concerned to speak to their line manager in the first instance so they can be properly resolved.

“We are also recruiting more frontline staff to help improve patient care and support staff.’

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