Latest stats revealed by the NHS show that a patient endured a wait of 62 hours for an ambulance, while another four trusts took more than 24 hours to respond to 999 calls.
But peoples understandable frustration should not be aimed at the men and women on the front line of the ambulance service – they are just trying to cope as best they can whilst having to contend with not having enough resources to cover the vast amount of calls which they receive.
The longest delays experienced by patients waiting for an ambulance in the UK were recorded by Welsh Ambulance Service, which kept four patients waiting for more than 50 hours.
A spokesman for the NHS told the BBC that the figures were “not typical” and “represent the extreme end of the waiting time spectrum”.
The Patients Association said they were “extremely concerning”.
Between June 2017 and June 2018, emergency ambulances from a total of four NHS Trusts took 24 hours to reach patients, including some with breathing and mental health problems.
Time and time again, our followers who are on the Thin Green Line tell us that they are struggling to cope under the sheer amount of pressure caused by the non-stop plethora of calls – many of which do not even need an emergency response.
The trusts said the longest waits were for “less serious calls”, and they had to prioritise responding to people in life-threatening or urgent conditions.
But this situation begs the question; Why are we sending emergency ambulances to non-emergency calls in the first place!? That’s not what emergency ambulances are for!
Many medics in the profession themselves admit that they would not call an emergency ambulance unless it was a genuine emergency, citing the fact that they would try and make their own arrangements to get to hospital, even if their condition prevented them from being able to drive.
Most ambulance NHS Trusts also reported achieving the national target of responding to the most serious type of emergency life-threatening call in an average of under 8 minutes.
Lucy Watson, from the Patients Association, told the BBC: “Everybody should be getting the services that they need.
“We know that demand has gone up on all health services as our population is getting older, and we need to see the level of investment increasing so our ambulances can respond in a timely way.”
According to the BBC, Caroline Hardaker’s mother Sylvia, 79, lay on concrete paving stones in her back garden for three-and-a-half hours after falling and breaking her hip in High Wycombe.
She told reporters from the BBC: “I think I rang six times in the end, and each time they said they would have a clinician call back and then they didn’t.
“It was so frustrating, just thinking ‘how long are they going to take’? And my mum was going into shock, her arms were shaking. Her arm had gone numb.
“She was obviously cold because she was lying on a pavement.
“The ambulance and hospital staff have been fantastic – its not their fault, the whole system is breaking down.
“When I was a child you were told it would be a maximum of eight minutes for an ambulance, but three-and-a-half hours is completely unacceptable.”
Paul Jefferies, from South Central Ambulance Service, which covers High Wycombe, told the BBC if patients experienced delays it was because “higher categories of calls took priority”.
Stephen Clinton, assistant director of operations for Welsh Ambulance Service, told the BBC: “We fully accept that a number of patients waited far longer than anyone would like.
“That said, these figures represent the extreme end of the waiting time spectrum and are neither typical nor do they explain the circumstances of these individual cases.”
He said in some of the cases the patients were already in the care of medical teams, and others were affected by extreme weather conditions.
The service did not provide details to the BBC when requested of the four patients who waited more than 50 hours.
But the longest three calls were in the second-most serious “amber” category, classified as “patients who may need treatment at scene or taking quickly to health facility”.
The remaining call was rated “green”, a classification used for “less urgent calls”.
The new figures, obtained by the BBC after a Freedom of Information request, also show that between 2015 and 2017, the total number of calls received increased by 15%.
In 2015, UK ambulance services received 8,892,346 calls, which rose to 9,891,559 in 2016 and 10,242,507 in 2017.
That’s an incredible 28,294 calls made to the Ambulance service PER DAY! That means that in 2017, there were 20 calls made to the Ambulance service every single minute of every single day, 7-days a week.
An Association of Ambulance Chief Executives spokesman told the BBC that resources had been stretched by “an exceptionally long and busy winter”.
An NHS Improvement spokesman also told the BBC that it had recently introduced an ambulance response programme to help services cope with the increasing demand.
He added: “An additional £36 million of funding recently announced will boost paramedic crews and improve the quality of NHS ambulance fleets.”
Most of my family and friends work in the emergency services and NHS.
I have a sister who is a midwife, a wife in the Police, two brothers-in-law who are Coppers, my mother-in-law used to be a nurse, my father-in-law used to be a firefighter, my sister is an ECA, I have another brother-in-law who is a HART Paramedic and my mother works in a renal unit.
I have also spent just under ten years serving on the front line of the emergency services, and I have never seen things as dire as they are now.
I live in a well-populated urban area of the UK and even I am nervous about having to call 999 for an ambulance should a member of my family get into trouble, because I am aware of just how over stretched the emergency services are right now.
I genuinely feel for my former colleagues and what they are having to endure; not least the many members of my family who are in-and-around the NHS / emergency services.
We need MORE money pumped into the NHS and emergency services as well as better pay and better working conditions – an essential prerequisite of getting more people into the NHS and emergency services.
If we, as a country, want what we all deserve, i.e. an NHS and emergency services that are able to cope with the demand placed upon them respectively, then we NEED more investment and we must start taking privatisation out of the NHS.
As well as working in the public sector, I have run my own businesses so know all-too-well that the ONLY thing that matters to private companies engaged in contract work for the NHS and emergency services IS PROFIT.
What we need, is the cost control of the private sector, coupled with the not-for-profit operation of the public sector. Private companies rip off the public sector – I know, because I have seen it!
This is why so many private companies really want public sector contracts – if you want to charge over-the-odds for something, then guess what; you can!
The public sector needs to adopt the attitude of the private sector when it comes to negotiating with suppliers – they could potentially save billions!
Its the profit-and-loss accounts which dictate how a private business is run – ignore the many soundbites and constant barrage of sassy marketing messages which come from the majority of private contractors who take on public sector work.
The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is well over-baked.
Everyone who lives and works in the world of the emergency services & NHS knows what the problems are and how they should be tackled.
But there just does not seem to be any desire, or at least, there appears not to be any desire, to genuinely fix the problem.
People are tired of listening to the waffle and spin that comes out of the mouths of people who are trying to create a chaff cloud in front of the real issues which get reported on a daily basis.
It’s time to stop talking and start fixing the real underlying problems. We are talking about peoples lives here – and that should take a priority over everything else.
We pay our taxes, which we are forced to pay, in part, to feel safe and secure.
At the moment, it would appear that few people are actually getting their monies worth.
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