A paramedic has spoken exclusively to emergency services news about a recent shift that saw the lifesaver work a 22-hour shift.
The medic ended up spending 12 hours of that shift with the same patient, as they waited to hand the patient over to A&E.
Talking about their experiences, the paramedic said:
‘It was my last shift, of a run of three, a twelve-hour night shift from 1830-0630.
With numerous shifts starting around the same time in the County, the dispatch team can balance the need for allocation to clinically worrying calls against relieving crews whose shift has ended and still have their patient.
‘After booking out drugs/checking vehicle, the control room sent me to a nearby hospital to assist.
‘By the time we had found somewhere to park, which is difficult when there are over 15 emergency ambulances there already, and established which crew needed our help, it was about half 7 when the patient came into our care.
‘They arrived around lunchtime and were currently top of the list to come in.
‘The patient remained with me for the entirety of my shift, having had fluids and two doses of antibiotics.
‘In some respects, it was a blessing that our patient had an underlying medical condition that meant he didn’t complain at any time.
‘But I cannot speak for the other 15 or so patients in the same situation.
‘The day crew came at 0645, and it was 0730 before I was walking out of work to my motorbike.
‘Thirteen hours and no breaks, which pretty much happens for at least 50% of our shifts.
‘I did not count the number of general broadcasts [Cat 1 calls where the patient could be in a life-or-death situaton], but there were at least a dozen, if not more, with many saying “no resource to send”.
‘This whole situation is demoralising and demotivating for myself and my colleagues, knowing that you are going to spend the majority or entirety of your shift sat at the hospital, instead of being out in the community, responding to the never-ending calls, which is what we are here to do.’
Under NHS guidance, emergency ambulance handovers should be completed within 15 minutes.
But about two-thirds of A&Es polled by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) recently indicated they were struggling to meet the benchmark every day.
The Department of Health said that extra funding is being provided to ‘boost staff numbers in critical areas.’
Recently, a patient died following a cardiac arrest after waiting in an ambulance for 30 minutes outside a hospital’s emergency department.
The patient, who has not been named, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on 29th November.
A statement from the hospital – released shortly after the incident – said the patient had a suspected infection and was assessed and treated by a doctor in the back of the ambulance.
The hospital said: “Our deepest condolences are with the family.”
In the statement, the hospital said that the night in question was “a very busy night for our hospital”.
It said: “We were alerted by the ambulance service of a patient arriving by ambulance at our emergency department with a suspected infection.
“On arrival the patient was immediately assessed and treated by an emergency doctor, but after 30 minutes went into cardiac arrest and was transferred from the ambulance to our resuscitation unit for further treatment where they sadly died.”
Last month, a patient suffered a fatal heart attack in the back of an emergency ambulance after it queued for more than two hours outside James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk.
And in another incident, a patient died in an ambulance outside Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge after waiting for more than an hour.
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