In the last week our ambulance service has posted the worst performance figures our country has ever seen. It is a disgrace.
Two years ago the ambulance trust undertook a trial that was not properly overseen. The situation shed light on poor governance at the trust and I was very outspoken at the time. But things seem to have got even worse since.
Before I go on I want to make clear that I am not criticising, and never have, the incredible work done by frontline paramedics and drivers and ambulance staff. They are so professional and working so hard despite cuts to their service and overstretch and shambolic management that leaves them unable to keep up with demand. It must be very stressful for them.
So what does this mean in practice? I was contacted over the summer by the family of a 16 year old who had fallen from her motorbike during a lesson. She was in great pain lying by a road. It took six attempts at calling 999 before they got through to an operator, and then once it was accepted as an emergency it took two hours for an ambulence to arrive. She was cold, in shock, and in terrible pain but let down by our emergency services.
And after seeing me on tv talking about this last week, a local resident came to my office on Friday and told me that her 86 year old mum fell in the middle of the night and couldn’t move so hit her panic alarm. It went through to her as well as the emergency services, and she ran round and was at her side within ten minutes.
Despite the panic alarm being hit, no ambulence had arrived, so she called 999. It’s almost impossible to believe, but it took five hours before one arrived, by which time this elderly and frail lady was shaking, crying, and as she had soiled herself, had lost the human dignity we should afford everyone, especially the elderly. I feel so emotional just imagining this situation.
I have written to the boss of our ambulence trust and the head of NHS Improvement – who have a duty to improve our service but are failing – and requested an urgent meeting. I’ll be looking at how to involve MPs from across the city and region too because I know at times like these you expect us all to be pulling together.
If there’s an experience, good or bad, you want me to know about please share it here or send me a message, I’m really keep to listen to you and learn from what is happening in our community as I move forward. All the best, Peter