How to solve the Ambulance Crisis

16 Dec 2022

This week, a resident told me they had watched an elderly lady trip outside Waterstones on the High Street and badly injure themselves.  So badly an ambulance was called for.  The poor lady then waited two and a half hours for assistance.

Unfortunately, this story is not unusual; we all know someone who has struggled to get help via our local hospital.

The Conservative government is to blame for the deterioration of our ambulance delays, which had led to significantly longer waiting times  in recent years. In fact, the average response time has increased by 63% for Category 2 calls since 2019.  This means that a person who suffers a heart attack is, on average, waiting over 55 minutes for help in Wiltshire.

This data was obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats, and we are calling for urgent action to tackle local ambulance delays and support our hospital. 

Paramedics on the frontline do an incredible job day in day out, looking after people in their time of need. But our overstretched NHS services are collapsing under the strain of years of neglect under this chaotic Conservative government.
According to the data obtained, the longest someone has had to wait to be admitted into Salisbury’s A&E was over 29 hours.  This is appalling and no reflection on our NHS staff but a chilling demonstration of the strain they are facing right now due to shoddy policy decisions.

I am calling for a five point winter plan to address the ambulance crisis:

  • First, we must address the dangerous staffing levels by launching a campaign to retain, recruit and train paramedics and other ambulance service staff.
  • Second, we must enable those who are medically well enough to be discharged from hospital and set up with appropriate social care and support via a fully funded programme. There is quite literally no space in our hospitals for incoming patients.  
  • Third, hospital capacity must be increased, and  new beds must come with increases in staff to care for those extra patients.
  • Fourth, expanded mental health support services would help people access appropriate care and reduce the number of call outs for ambulances for mental health reasons.  Some hospitals have established ‘emergency mental health departments’ to achieve this.
  • Finally, Daisy Cooper MP has brought forward an Ambulance Waiting Times Bill that would require accessible, localised reports of ambulance response times to be published. This would ensure that ‘hot spots’ with some of the longest waiting times can be identified routinely. 

I am proud to live in a country where anyone, no matter their age, employment status, income can access world-leading medical care, and it is heartbreaking to hear every day another NHS professional speaking on the radio about the dire state they are working in.

I used to wonder what more needed to happen before this Government would take our health system seriously, but now I realise that a change of government is the only solution.

- Victoria Charleston

First published in the Salisbury & Avon Gazette. 12-Dec-2022

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