Ambulances in the spotlight

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson. EMN-180226-161551001
Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson. EMN-180226-161551001

Sleaford MP Dr Caroline Johnson was among local MPs raising their concerns in Parliament about the county’s stretched ambulance service.

The Westminster Hall debate last Wednesday considered the performance of East Midlands Ambulance Service, which it was claimed, was near the bottom of regional tables for response times.

Dr Johnson said: “My constituency has a dispersed population, a rural road network and some NHS staffing challenges, all of which have contributed to the ambulance service failing to meet its national targets.

“Every few weeks I receive a letter from a constituent who has waited an unacceptable amount of time for an ambulance. Indeed, I myself, as a member of the public, have been at the side of the road trying my best to treat casualties, waiting a long time for an ambulance.”

She said “there is no quick fix” but suggested that when ambulance crews start to queue up at A&E waiting to hand over patients, it is unnecessary to keep all those crews waiting when one trained crew could look after more of the patients on a similar ratio to that seen in intensive care. She reasons that put patients at less risk than waiting at home in a rural area far away from health facilities, unobserved by a paramedic.

She has raised this with the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who is looking into it, she said.

Dr Johnson also recommended more crews having a paramedic to deliver an equal level of service in an area where response times are longer.

Stephen Barclay, health minister, recognised the trust’s performance needs to improve and said a range of actions are under way: “Key measures include the implementation of a new urgent care transport service, to take pressure off emergency ambulance responses; action to address handover delays at hospitals across the East Midlands area; and a demand and capacity review of the trust, to ensure that it has the right levels of resource.”

He said pay and staff numbers would also be addressed.