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‘What the hell is going on when you can’t get an ambulance?’


In posts on two Facebook forums, GP Survival and Resilient GP, family doctors write anonymously, revealing their concerns about how hard they sometimes find it to get an ambulance to attend to a sick patient – and the risks that can pose.

 “I ended up in the back of a police car with sirens going with a stranger who’d had a probable stroke on the street. Category 2 ambulance hadn’t come after 45 minutes so flagged down a cop car. They bundled us in.

“Emergency department full of waiting ambulances unable to unload and I eventually left him in the very capable hands of the stroke team. Terrifying how broken our system is and how many people had likely just walked past him before I spotted him from my car."

 “Our emergency care practitioner called an ambulance at 6pm on Wednesday 6 July. Very elderly gentleman. Off legs, urinary symptoms, not eating/drinking. Guess when crew arrived? This morning, Friday 8 July, around 10am – 40 hours [later]. And the ECP had to wait 35 minutes just for 999 call to be answered!”

 “I recently complained [to the local ambulance service] for first time ever when ambulance refused to take a very sick patient of mine into hospital that I’d assessed over the phone because ‘her obs are normal’. They weren’t but even if they had been the reliance on these alone, ignoring the medical background, the family history and my history was just wrong.

“I then had to go out and see her, re-call 999 (with many hours additional delay) and she died after a few days in hospital.”

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Source: The Guardian, 9 March 2023

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