Many NHS Ambulance Trusts could only respond to LIFE THREATENING calls over the Christmas and New Year period. Here’s why…


We all know the NHS is on its knees. Buggered. Broken. Whatever you want to call it. And depending where you look, everyone has their own pet theories on why it’s all gone to hell in a handcart. Underfunding. Poor management. Immigration. An ageing population. You name it. Everything but the unpalatable truth!

Having worked pretty much all of Christmas, I can tell you exactly what the biggest issue is. Us! Society in general and an NHS that’s scared of its own shadow.

Firstly, society. We have managed to raise a series of generations with absolutely bugger all common sense, no coping skills and a sense of self entitlement that has to be seen to be believed. Gone are the days when you’d fall over, break your arm and your Mum would sigh, bundle you into the car and run you up to A&E, all the while bollocking you for ruining a perfectly good jumper. Oh no. Now, you ring for an ambulance! No more taking to your bed, waiting for a sickness bug to work it’s way out of your system through a variety of orifices. Why suffer in silence when you can call an ambulance? Fallen over? Call an ambulance. Drunk yourself into oblivion? Call an ambulance. Can’t afford a taxi. Call an ambulance.


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Yet again, our emergency services were over-stretched and under-resourced over the festive period



Then there’s mental health. Now don’t get me wrong. True mental health problems are crippling and serious but I can’t help thinking that we’ve created a whole shiny new set of them ourselves. I listen to people whining about how they’re crippled by student debts from University and have no hope of getting on the housing ladder etc etc. How we had it so much easier. Did we? Really? I never got the chance to go to Uni. Few from my generation did. We just got on with it. Worked our way up the ladder with hard graft.

The real irony is that we now find ourselves ruled out of certain jobs because apparently, real life experience counts for nothing. Bloody good Ambulance technicians with 20 years experience, stuck because they don’t have a bit of paper to wave around. Experienced Coppers that have been pounding the streets for years, commanded by people half their age who’ve barely touched the pavement but boy, do they know all the theory. As for the housing ladder, since when was that a God given right anyway?

Anyway, I digress. If you spend enough time telling people how tough they have it, they’ll start to believe it. Don’t give them ‘Safe Rooms’ and throw antidepressants around like sweeties, thereby setting up the chain of inevitable side effects.



Idiots who cannot control their drinking were largely to blame

Teach them how to cope! Teach them that life isn’t fair and sometimes, you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get on with it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for raising awareness and breaking down the taboos but surely there has to be a middle ground somewhere? You would not believe how many resources are wasted running around breaking down doors because someone has had an argument with their partner and posted some cryptic note on social media. Meanwhile, those that genuinely need the help aren’t getting it because they’re buried amongst a sea of bloody snowflakes!

Which brings me nicely to the NHS. Like most Trusts across the country, we have been hammered over the Christmas period. So much so that for the first time ever, we have been forced to tell all but those with immediately life threatening conditions to make their own way to hospital, wait for their GP to open, self medicate etc. And you know what, magically, they’ve managed.

Of course, there are still the chosen few that know what to say to get what they want but on the whole, given no choice, people have suddenly figured out how to help themselves.




London saw an unprecedented number of murders over the New Year period


So why can’t it always be like this? Why can’t we refuse to re-attend the patient that called an ambulance and then decided they didn’t want to listen to the crew first time round? Why can’t we suggest that people make their own way? Go to the pharmacy. And frankly, in some cases, grow a set? Maybe then, we could actually help those that really do need our help. Not leave little old ladies lying on the floor with broken hips for hours on end because we’re running around after drunken idiots.

Why? Because no one in the NHS ivory towers has the balls to say “Enough!” They’re too busy micro managing the stuff that doesn’t matter, while missing the bleeding obvious stuff that does, and all the while running scared of being sued and ending up all over the media. If only they realised that the mistakes that do happen are generally because the system is overloaded, severely abused and as a result, staff are burnt out and morale is on the floor.

Because of ‘us’….

Written by someone serving on the Thin Green Line (UK), who is also a regular contributor to our Digital Magazine, S__ts & Giggles…

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Morale is at an all-time low. Again. 



  • Absobloodylutely spot on. I well remember as I escaped the Amb service some of the ‘old’ paramedics throwing their kit back and down-grading to Tech. such was the damage the newly ‘qualified’ did in some areas, attracting the leeches of the ‘no-win-no-fee’ ‘wheres there’s blame there’s a claim’ Ambulance chasing legal ‘profession’ in the process.
    Lets not forget the NHS has never been safe, nu-labia’s lip-service whilst bringing in PFI profiteers is a prime example, from political interference. But yes at the end of the day it’s the abusers of the service that cost the most in wasted time and resources.
    24 Ambulances with patients sat waiting outside QAH A&E during the day on New Years eve, with the PFI QAH e-mailing all staff asking for volunteers to come in and help cover sickness absences etc really isn’t a pretty picture, thats after having declared a Black Alert in mid December. Too many minor injury units and local hospital A&E’s closed in favour of a few ‘specialist’ units no bigger than they were before all the closures hasn’t helped, now a ‘quick trip’ to A&E isn’t a few minutes in the car, it’s 45 minutes under blues and two, if your lucky, any wonder they dial 999 for an Ambulance?

  • Completely agree, I’d go further and if it’s a drunk needing an ambulance, charge them for it, it is not an emergency, if it is a call of a non emergency standard, charge them, it would soon stop the rot……

    • this has surely got to be given serous consideration !!. how much more can we expect of our overworked nhs staff! most are more than willing to work all hours for those genuinely in need , but so many of the “illnesses” today are brought on by ignorance or worse self inflicted ! and we bear the cost!!!! don’t blame the NHS blame joe public or those who are so totally self centred they could care less, ok so let them pay the cost!!!!! not the likes of my daughter who often works way over shift time of 8 hours because some drunken inconsiderate moron has had more to drink than the normal person can cope with !!!……..stop pessy footing around…charge them for your /our time !

  • Wow author, bitter much?

    • very , and completely justified

    • Young Ambulance Worker

      It’s how society makes/breaks you, when you work in a profession where people have become so ‘entitled’ and finding it acceptable to use an emergency service as a social worker, a shoulder to cry on, a taxi, etc. And those people tend to abuse the staff, verbally and physically. Then on the other side an 89 year old lady is apologising for disturbing us when her chest pain has become so unbearable she can’t even lift her arm anymore.
      The amount of people I have spoken to who have said “If I knew it was going to take this long, I would have taken him in the car!” And we can’t even say “Well, why didn’t you?”
      I’m a young person working in the NHS, barely starting my career. I’ve seen the best, and worst in society. and it’s not going well.
      As for A&E being blocked up by people being brought in unnecessarily, Ambulances are a big part of that. I’ve spoken to Paramedics who have taken patients in to hospital, not because the patient NEEDS to be there, but because they’re too scared to lose their registration if anything were to happen, despite the fact the patient only needs a primary care intervention.

      People need to realise the role of an ambulance is to stabilize, treat and transport patients in life-threatening situations. Not to ‘come and check them over’ – that’s for the Doctor to do. If people listened to the absolute rubbish that was coming through to the ambulance service, they’d think exactly the same as what’s written in this article.

  • Very realistic and well written , as a para I agree with it all

  • Put all the drunks (who are costing our NHS service an absolute fortune) into a huge wrought-iron locked cage until they’re sober. Then charge them for time-wasting from the police, the paramedics and any other poor sod who has had the misfortune to have to deal with their anti-social and self-inflicting moronic behaviour. Happy New Year!!!!

  • Other than essentially blaming young people for the increase in mental health cases, there a few excellent points here. I would like to point out that University was mostly free from the 1960s-late 1990s so I don’t quite understand why anyone between the ages of 27-75 would have struggled, tuition loans became available in the early 90s so if you’re older than 27 and would benefit from University, there is no real reason why you couldn’t have attended. But I wonder whether finding yourself in up to £100,000 debt may be off-putting? And when you begin consider putting yourself into that much debt, you would probably start complaining too.

    May I suggest that instead of using the young generation as a scapegoat for all of today’s problem you consider educating the new parents and older parents of today that were evidently incapable of teaching their children how to self-medicate, I was lucky enough to be raised by a talented nurse, but I do not blame those raised by parents who taught them no better than “just go to the hospital, they’ll fix it”. If anything, the generation who are currently in their 40s-50s were more than happy to use the system to fix any problem they had before addressing it themselves, having demanded social welfare for the majority of their lives.

    I appreciate what you’re trying to say but the problem is so much more complicated than a “snowflake generation”, the many individuals abusing the welfare system aren’t in their 20s, they’re 30-50 and they’ve been abusing benefits for years and years, taking valuable money which could be used elsewhere e.g. in NHS. In addition, anyone between the ages of 20-25 will only have had up to 10 years to use the NHS independently as an adult. Surely you aren’t suggesting that my generation have caused the downfall of the NHS in such a short amount of time, because obviously to suggest that would be ridiculous.

    ALSO, I’m sorry that you resent younger, more educated individuals with less hands-on training overtaking longer-standing workers but surely that is just a factor of life! What someone may have learnt in 20 years, a student will learn in 5 and then in 20 years time the same will happen again, it is up to each individual to ensure they keep themselves informed and up-to-date to ensure that you don’t become replaceable.

    • Yes it’s true university tuition fees were free’ but you also had to be clever and mostly from well heeled parents which ruled out most of the working class. Now it’s expected of young people to attend university regardless of any intelligence. So long as you can secure the loan, you’re in and the party begins.

    • I think you may have totally missed the point entirely about ‘the younger generation’ in the Service… no – you cannot learn in 5 years what has taken someone else 20 to acquire – it isn’t all about theory – it’s about hands on practical experience. I was a Tech for 5 years before applying to do my then IHCD Para course…. you had respect for Paramedics because they had worked a number of years as a Tech and in PTS and had got their knowledge the right way and first and foremost were damn good Ambulance Men/Women – through actually experiencing it and learning from their mistakes and successes…. a newly qualified and registered degree Paramedic cannot ever have the same experience – knowledge and theory, maybe yes – but experience – not even close, and not in 5 years either… try 10 or 20….

      And as for the ‘snowflake’ generation….. I think by my having to explain the above kinda highlights the issue itself really…. you’ve taken offence without stopping to really understand what it is your taking offence at and think it through

      • The only offence I’ve taken is the author indicating that young people being wimps is why the NHS is failing, because it’s wimps of all ages that cause part of the problems. The bigger problem is major corporations avoiding tax, whilst the rest of us struggle with mainstream media suggesting that we’re the problem so we turn on one another opposed to challenging corporations.
        I don’t take offence at the paramedic bit at all… I’m not sure how you’ve interpreted what I said regarding that issues as being said in offence. I’m just not quite sure why the author seems to be surprised that newly qualified paras are replacing more experienced paras if those clinicians are too stubborn to keep themselves updated. Why would any employer choose an individual with 20 years experience AND a working, current and updated understanding over a newbie?
        You actually don’t need to point out that someone with 20 years experience is more experienced than someone with 5, it’s fairly self-explanatory. You seemed to have misunderstood, deliberately or not.
        My generation have to fix the mess you’ve left behind, you’re welcome.

  • Once upon a time there was a charge of “Drunk and disorderly” – and they slept it off in the cells. I have no objection to them being supervised by a medical team – but make them pay.

  • Well done to the control room person who has had the guts to tell the truth of what is happening with the ambulance service. Drunkards should not only be made to pay for the cost of the ambulance, the paramedics , the control room staff,hospital staff looking after them,give them community service of cleaning up after other drunks. These measures high make them think twice of having some selfconrol and respect for others.

  • Totally agree with the sentiments of the post. What’s wrong with a £25 charge for every 999 call. If you’re having a CVE / MI / serious bleed, it’s the best value £25 you will ever spend. If your drunk, a frequent caller etc, the £25 charges will add up. And up. Problem partly solved.

    • What is you’re a very solvent frequent caller?
      Or don’t have £25?
      Or have some problem not covered in your gross generalisation?

  • Good thing I stumbled on this, if I’m looking on behalf of a social scientist for the answers on the ills of what plagues our society, then luckily, I won’t have to look any farther than this gem.
    Modern day HCPC paramedics – fairies who wilt at the sight of…well…anything and aren’t fit to carry the bags of old school proper medics.
    People on benefits? Scum of the Earth. Every single of one them, lazy gits who don’t deserve anything. Get ‘em out stacking shelves in Poundstretcher if I’m giving ’em taxes.
    Mental Health – well, that’s another name for ponce innit? They’re all a bunch of fairies who need to pick themselves up, do some sit-ups, and ave a word wiv themselves about their lack of spine.
    Drunk and kids these days? When I was a youngster, I didn’t drink alcohol, that’s for nancies, I drank battery acid, stayed up all night fighting, got stabbed in all my major organs and I still didn’t call an ambulance…and it didn’t do me no harm I can tell you.
    Except with the lack of societal understanding and misdirected vitriol evident here – it did.
    There are a whole set of problems which beset the Ambulance Service and NHS – it starts with money, education and concludes with the motives of government.
    The symptoms you have crudely and inadequately described above, are the real-world effects of the many deliberate moves by government backers to get all services into their hands. The government have deliberately defunded the NHS for their own ends and society needs an education as to what an emergency is and what an ambulance is for.
    111 needs an update as to process too.
    As for the booze related problems, the might be addressed by better and sustained education – and possibly by fining any business which sell booze to problem drinkers.
    As a piece of work, this stands out as an excellent piece on the perils of retrospective navel gazing, if you don’t blow a fuse over the many oxygen thieves you attend, you could probably find work fact finding for the Daily Mail or in the fringe elements of the Conservative Party.

  • I would like to point out that University was mostly free from the 1960s-late 1990s so I don’t quite understand why anyone between the ages of 27-75 would have struggled, tuition loans became available in the early 90s so if you’re older than 27 and would benefit from University, there is no real reason why you couldn’t have attended. Oddly though in those days there were not the whole wealth of ex-ploys now Universities or those that never existed around, and to get to University were places were limited you needed pretty decent grades, where as now you seemingly are able to go with grades that previously you would not get in with, as with some many Unis there are some that just want their bums on seats regardless of the fact you are competing post Uni with all those overs 100s if not 1000s ont he same course elewhere – there are countless people doing courses at Universities runnign up debt who when the leave will find out that the jobs are not there.

  • Good points.

    Unfortunately this is a sign of the times and bitching about it is yes, helpful for a paramedics sanity but it’s not going to change anything.

    The government needs to invest in public health initiatives such as health promotion or greater access to low acuity services. Mental health and alcohol / drug dependence is such a major issue in society and needs to be addressed.

    The risk of litigation for ambulance services is another reason why we are sent for welfare checks / sent high priority to some cases/ sent an ambulance in the first place.

    I hope to all those working through this difficult time can hang in there and remember why they started in the job. You do fantastic work and it is appreciated.

    Happy new year!

  • I just heard a tale of some lads going on a booze trip. One collapsed unresponsive in the street. Picked up by private ambulance, taken to private clinic, stuck on a trolley in a corridor to sober up. He gave all his insurance details the next morning and left – thought it was hilarious. That was until he got home and found a bill for £7000 because his insurance didn’t pay for drunks. Need a bit more of that in the UK.

  • Our parents of 9 children taught us to be independent to understand that you get nothing in live free. if you wonted something you had to earn it or work for it. The NHS services are there to help people in need of real emergency not has taxis. There a lot of mental issues out there today in all age groups why ? Is it life style drugs alcohol greed pressure of job or are people lazy and uses mental health has a reason to be lazy.

  • Some half-decent points at the beginning buried in a sea of short-sighted bitterness and bile by the end. Shame really.

  • Cant the hospitals bill people who miss use use ambulances for trivial ailments that they could have got a taxi for the journey !

  • I can only sympathise with those who are conscientious staff working hard in the NHS, strangled by the idiots in our over pampered society in what has become a Nanny State.

  • sheila bickerstaffe

    Some very good points made in the article, but the high paid managers that work Monday too Friday and bank holidays off are also crippling the NHS. why wards and departments run short staffed. Get rid of some of the penpushers.

  • A police officer is called to a house where a man has collapsed with severe chest pains. He calls the ambulance and is told that the ambulance will take 7 hours to attend. He then has to wait with the patient for 7 hrs. You now have one police officer off the street.

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