Ambulance crisis! – caused by bed shortages

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HOSPITAL bed and staff shortages are causing suffering for patients in the West Midlands as ambulances cannot deliver patents for treatment, the area’s senior ambulance chief has warned.

West Midlands Ambulance Service assistant chief officer Steve Wheaton said nearly 2,000 ambulances had waited more than an hour this month to hand over an A&E patient.

He added that in one case, a paramedic in Dudley was forced to wait more than six hours.

Wheaton said the situation was the worst he had known in his 20-year career.

West Midlands Ambulance Service covers Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands conurbation.

Wheaton said: ‘Patient safety is our number one priority and we do our best to make sure that we look after patients, but it is becoming increasingly hard to maintain a 999 service and a service to patients in a corridor.

‘Corridors are not the best place for patients to be nursed.’

He said that the ambulance service is regularly leaving paramedics with patients in corridors and occasionally, vehicles are answering emergencies without a stretcher because the patient is still lying on it in hospital.

Wheaton warned that hospital delays were impacting on 999 response times.

He said: ‘I am sure that if you looked through some of the cases that we have seen, patients’ chances of survival would have improved, or the outcome of their care could have been better, had we got there faster.’

From April, hospitals will start being fined for not releasing ambulances quickly enough. Wheaton said, on present levels, the fines would cost Heart of England £17m a year.

• The GMB union is organising a demonstration outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital on Saturday 6th April 2013 at 11.00am to protest against £30m cuts announced this week.

The GMB said it will take all necessary measures, including balloting members for industrial action, to prevent these ill-advised plans from being implemented.

The protest is being organised in alliance with Defend the NHS Brighton who are campaigning to protect the NHS services in Sussex.

Former south east London trust special administrator who ordered the axing of Lewisham A&E and Maternity, Mathew Kershaw, is the incoming Chief Executive of Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH) and takes over on 1st April.