Patients health 'at risk' by proposed ambulance cuts

PUBLISHED: 17:52 14 October 2012

WHT AMBULANCE FRONT

WHT AMBULANCE FRONT

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A DAMNING document claiming patients' health is at risk by a stretched ambulance service has been passed to the WHT as health bosses prepare to cut emergency services.

Officials want to reduce the hours double staffed ambulances work in WGC, but a whistle blower said seriously ill residents are already waiting hours for ambulances.

They said patients have been left to languish after 999 calls in Times Territory and highlights three worrying cases that took place in the past few months.

It is alleged lone paramedics’ pleas for back up were left unanswered despite the urgency of their calls.

The ambulance service insider claimed:

* Almost an hour passed before an ambulance attended a Hatfield call which saw a patient with chest pains fall unconscious before developing respiratory arrest.

The lone paramedic who attended in a rapid response car made three requests for back up – the last two for immediate response – before an ambulance arrived.

* An elderly patient with suspected septicaemia – a time sensitive potentially fatal condition – was left waiting for two hours for an ambulance after a 999 call made by a home care warden.

A rapid response vehicle arrived after one hour but was left waiting for the double staffed ambulance to attend.

* An ambulance was diverted away from an urgent back up call to a patient with a blocked airway.

The lone paramedic on scene was not made aware that the ambulance was sent to a different address in WGC because the new patient was having breathing difficulties.

When questioned by the crew the control room said there were no other ambulances available.

It later transpired there were vehicles in Hertford

Despite the alleged incidents WGC could have one of its two double staffed ambulances’ on call hours reduced by more than half from 20 to nine.

The other would work 24 hours a day but the insider fears the changes will lead to a reliance on rapid response vehicles, which can not take patients to hospital.

The station could also lose its Emergency Care Practitioners – who refer patients to relevant services – and their dedicated vehicle leaving stretched staff to soak up their work.

Ambulance Unison branch secretary, Gary Applin, said: “We are really concerned that there will be detrimental effect on patient care caused by these cuts. Patients in need of emergency care are going to have to wait longer to be transported to hospital as a result of these changes.’’

The East of England Ambulance Service said it needed more details to respond to the incident claims, but it has to save £50m over the next five years and would not put people at risk.

A spokesman said: “The Trust recognises that the service it offers needs improvement and better tailored rotas are one part of this.

“The revisions follow a comprehensive intelligent analysis which shows there are currently places and times when we have too many vehicles and crews for the number of patients we see and places and times when we do not have enough, making inefficient use of taxpayers’ money.”

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