Lone Paramedics Left Without Ambulance Back-Up for ‘Several Hours’
Calling for an ambulance in an emergency situation is a scenario we all fear, even if the response time is little more than a few minutes. But imagine having that desperate need for medical attention and then having to wait a disproportionate amount of time for help to arrive. 10 minutes would be difficult, half an hour would be terrifying, but several hours? After several hours lives would undoubtedly be put at risk.
We call 999 for urgent assistance with the hope ourselves, a loved one or member of the general public will be placed in the best hands as soon as possible. A lengthy wait is an outcome we just can’t envisage when someone is seriously in need of medical assistance, but unfortunately, as revealed last week by the BBC, extended delays are very much a reality even for the most critical call-outs.
An anonymous paramedic has come forward and revealed how serious failings in the ambulance service are leading to delays in getting patients into hospital and even deaths in the most extreme cases. The paramedic speaks on behalf of the ambulance service in the east of England and explains how ‘lone-response’ paramedics can be left waiting for back-up for several hours.
Sadly, the patients waiting for ambulance assistance aren’t necessarily sprains and minor (but still painful and debilitating) injuries, but those suffering severe symptoms such as chest pains and difficulty breathing. In one instance, the paramedic in question reported that they had to wait for an ambulance to arrive from 50 miles away. During this time the patient passed away before the ambulance could reach her.
A further case study was additionally highlighted in which a gentleman suffering chest pains was subjected to a frankly embarrassing performance on behalf of the ambulance service. The patient initially suffered a heart attack and had to wait 3 hours before hospital admission. The lone-paramedic on scene was told that the first ambulance on route was being diverted to another emergency and that the second scheduled ambulance was also unable to attend due to running out of petrol.
On the second occasion the patient was taken into hospital (a month later due to chest pains) a paramedic responded quickly but the patient again faced an unacceptable delay in hospital admission due to the ambulance arriving late and then breaking down at his house. While on both occasions the patient praised the paramedic on scene, he labelled the delays as ‘disgusting’.
After such cases the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) has admitted serious issues need to be resolved and has revealed plans to invest in frontline staff and operations. An additional 351 frontline staff will apparently be taken on as well as an extra £5m invested in frontline operations. In areas most affected by the delays and unacceptable response rates, an extra 25 fully staffed ambulances will additionally be deployed.
While the changes will take time to implement, with fears over response times coming to light and actionable measures being taken, hopefully both paramedics and the general public will see vast improvements in how the EEAS operates.
If you feel that your health, or that of a loved-one, has been put at risk by poor patient care or delayed response times, get in touch with the medical negligence specialists at PH Solicitors for expert advice.