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Ambulance services on fringe of collapse

Ambulance services are under intense pressure, with record numbers of callouts and the most urgent, category-one, calls last month.

BBC Two's Newsnight programme spent from 08:00 to 20:00 on Monday at six hospitals with the longest delays handing patients over from paramedics to accident and emergency staff.

This should take 15 minutes or less - but crews often wait many hours and sometimes whole 12-hour shifts, with ambulances queuing outside unable to respond to other emergency calls.

At Royal Cornwall, 25 ambulances were queuing by the afternoon, three for at least 10-and-a-half hours, at Derriford, in Plymouth, 20 were queuing up to 11 hours in an overflow car park and the longest wait at Heartlands was more than five hours.

"We're right on the fringe of collapse right now," a paramedic who has worked in emergency care for more than a decade said.

"People are phoning and being told that they're not going to get an ambulance for six or nine hours. And that's happening routinely - that is happening pretty much every shift."

"It would be wrong to say that there are times when I haven't shed a tear... for the people we haven't been able to help because it's been too late," the paramedic said. 

"They may have died anyway but there are definitely cases that I've been to where we should have been to them sooner and less harm would have come to them."

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Source: BBC News, 15 July 2022


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