Ambulance trust begs patients to take their OWN loved ones to hospital
Ailing ambulance trust begs patients take their OWN loved ones to hospital… and only ring 999 if it’s a true emergency or they ‘can’t get there by any other means’
- Ambulance trust in North West of England said they were under huge pressure
- Bosses said 600 patients were waiting for help from paramedics last night ,
- And 100 vehicles were stuck outside of hospitals unable to offload patients
- Trust issued a plea for public to take ill or injured people to hospital themselves
A struggling ambulance trust has begged patients to take their own loved ones to A&E if they can.
The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has issued an urgent plea for the public to only use 999 for life-threatening emergencies or where patients cannot get there by ‘any other means’.
In all other circumstances, they asked patients to call upon friends and family to get them to A&E.
It comes as all ambulance services have declared their highest level of alert due to overwhelming demand, with one senior ambulance boss describing the situation as: ‘The wheels are falling off now.’
An ambulance trust in the North West has urged families to try and convey their loved ones to hospital themselves as paramedics cannot keep up with demand
The ambulance strike will affect emergency services across England and Wales on two days
Ambulances took an average of 48 minutes and eight seconds to respond to372,326 category two calls, such as heart attacks, strokes burns and epilepsy (red bars). This is nearly three times as long as the 18 minute target but around 13 minutes speedier than one month earlier
Some Britons are already having to take ambulance duties into their own hands. For example, Nicole Lea had to strap her grandfather, pictured here after being admitted, to a plank of wood and take him to hospital in the back of a van after the pensioner suffered a severe fall
A woman says she was forced to strap her grandfather to a plank of wood and drive him to hospital in the back of a van as there were no ambulances available after he fell and broke his hip.
Devoted granddaughter Nicole Lea found 89-year-old Melvyn Ryan lying on the floor of his home in Cwmbran, South Wales, early on Friday morning.
The 27-year-old said she had been alerted by a call from the emergency lifeline button round the pensioner’s neck.
After arriving she found her granddad had also suffered a broken shoulder and was bleeding from a cut to his head.
But the firefighter, who lives in Pontypool, was left aghast after ringing 999 only to be told there were no ambulances available and none would come to help.
Nicole Lea, pictured here with her grandfather Melvyn Ryan, was left aghast after being told no ambulances would come to help him after he fell and broke his hip
Instead the call handler reportedly told Nicole to ring an out-of-hours GP and book a taxi to transport the pensioner to hospital, before hanging up in order to ‘answer other calls’.
‘I couldn’t really believe what I was being told,’ said Ms Lea, who’s been Melvyn’s principal carer since he lost his wife Maureen to Covid in 2020.
‘I was expecting a long wait for paramedics but never thought I’d literally be told, “We have nothing to send, you’ll have to find alternative transport”.
Read more: Woman’s fury after having to strap her Army veteran grandfather, 89, to a WOODEN PLANK to get him to hospital with a broken hip after being told there were ‘no ambulances’ available
NWAS said last night that there were more than 600 patients waiting for ambulances across the region. It blamed the freezing temperatures for a surge in demand.
Additionally, it said 100 emergency vehicles were stuck outside hospitals waiting to unload patients, with wards too full to take them on.
Similar pressures were seen today.
In a plea made last night Ged Blezard, NWAS’s director of operations said: ‘Please only call 999 if someone has a serious illness or injury, you think their life is at risk, and you cannot get them to hospital by any other means.
‘We know there are patients waiting for our help and we are sorry that we are unable to respond as quickly as we would like. Please be assured that we will get to you as soon as we can.’
It listed emergencies which ambulance crews prioritise as cardiac arrest, a loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, severe allergic reactions, burns and scalds, suspected stroke, and serious head injuries.
This covers both category one and category two calls.
Category one emergencies are the most urgent and should be responded to in, on average, seven minutes.
Meanwhile, category two calls are less immediately life threatening, but still serious, and ambulances should arrive in 18 minutes, on average , as per NHS targets.
NWAS isn’t alone in battling unprecedented demand, with all 10 ambulance services in England having now declared their highest alert level due to ‘extreme pressures’.
A senior ambulance chief told the Health Service Journal that ambulance response times have dropped dramatically in the last few days as A&E handover delays have surged.
‘The wheels are falling off now, we’re in a really awful situation,’ the unidentified boss said.
They added that ambulance bosses are worried about the impact of the nurses strike on Thursday, fearing it will exacerbate the bed-blocking delays that leave emergency vehicles stuck outside hospital unable to handover patients.
Latest NHS data shows ambulance response times are more than double the target for some emergencies.
Ambulances took an average of 48m 8s to respond to category two calls, such as heart attacks, strokes burns and epilepsy, in November.
Family members taking their loved one to hospital are not legally allowed to speed or run red lights, and must obey other rules of the road.
NWAS is not alone in leaving patients and their families to try and convey their loved ones to hospital themselves.
Nicole Lea was forced to to strap her grandfather to a plank of wood and drive him to hospital herself in the back of a van after being told there were no ambulances available after he fell and broke his hip.
The firefighter found Melvyn Ryan, 89, lying on the floor of his home in Cwmbran in South Wales early on Friday morning.
A Freedom of Information request, submitted by the Liberal Democrats, reveals the postcode lottery patients face when calling 999. The figures cover the year to March 2022 and local areas in England. Category one callers — those from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries — faced a wait of nearly three-times longer in some towns and cities compared to others. In Mid Devon, where paramedics were slowest to arrive on the scene, patients waited 15 minutes and 20 seconds, on average. Meanwhile, people calling 999 due to burns, epilepsy and strokes — classed as category two callers — experienced a six-fold difference in waiting times nation-wide. Patients in Cornwall were forced to wait one hour and 41 minutes, on average
Ringing 999 on strike days? You might be taken to A&E in a TAXI, health minister admits
Patients could be driven to hospital in taxis during the NHS strikes, officials admitted today after it was revealed soldiers stepping in to help may not be unable to attend emergencies.
Hundreds of troops will be mobilised during the upcoming strikes, with thousands of paramedics set to walk-out on December 21 and 28. It will mark the biggest industrial action of its kind since the 1980s.
Health minister Will Quince said cabs could be used for category 3 and 4 calls, which include patients who have fallen or have diarrhoea, on the day.
It comes after a union boss warned some ambulance workers could refuse to provide supposedly ringfenced ‘life and limb care’ on strike days.
Rushing to his home after being alerted by a call from an emergency lifeline button round the pensioner’s neck, Ms Lea called for an ambulance shortly after arriving to her grandfather’s aid.
But after ringing 999, the 28-year-old was told there were no ambulances available and none would be coming to help.
Instead, the call handler reportedly told Nicole to ring an out-of-hours GP and book a taxi to transport the pensioner to hospital, before hanging up in order to ‘answer other calls’.
Left with little choice she, with help of other family members, strapped Mr Ryan to plank of wood and took him to hospital in the back of van.
Upon arriving, Ms Lea learned her choice to do so may have saved her grandfather’s life.
‘When we did get him to hospital the staff there told me that had we followed the advice we’d been given over the phone, he could’ve died,’ she said.
‘They told us that had we sat him up in a taxi the break in his hip would’ve likely ruptured an artery and been catastrophic for him.’
She added that she felt saddened and disappointed by what had happened.
‘I knew the NHS was in trouble and wait times were long,’ said Nicole, ‘I also knew that it’s understaffed and its workers are underpaid.
‘But what I didn’t know when I called 999 was that they’d just turn around and say they weren’t sending help. Neither did I know they’d hang up on me, expecting me to figure out how to get him to safety.
The NWAS plea comes as tens of thousands of paramedics prepare to walk-out next week.
Staff represented by unions Unite, Unison and GMB have coordinated strike action to be held on December 21 after accusing the Government of ignoring their pleas for a decent pay rise.
While No10 has called in hundreds of military personnel to help man ambulances, a huge wave of disruption is anticipated.
Troops standing in are unlikely to drive ambulances on urgent calls. It is understood the military will be forced to observe speed limits and stop at red lights – limiting their ability to respond promptly to 999 calls.
They are expected to take on backroom roles and non-urgent calls to free up paramedics still working.
Ministers have also said some patients could instead be taken to hospital by taxi.
Health minister Will Quince hinted at this tactic for category 3 and 4 calls, which include patients who have fallen or have diarrhoea.
His comments came after a union boss warned some ambulance workers could refuse to provide supposedly ringfenced ‘life and limb care’ on strike days.
It comes after Unison’s Alan Lofthouse claimed frustrated NHS staff could go rogue and choose not to save patients’ lives during the walk-out.
They may refuse to offer life and limb care — responding to critical medical events, like a cardiac arrest or stroke — he said.
Meanwhile, a third of patients taken to A&E by paramedics are still spending at least 30 minutes stuck in the vehicles outside of hospitals due to a lack of beds, with one in seven waiting more than an hour.
Health chiefs have mainly blamed the handover delays on the bed blocking crisis, which costs taxpayers in the region of £2billion a year.
In other related news…
Woman’s fury after having to strap her grandfather, 89, to a WOODEN PLANK to get him to hospital after being told there were ‘no ambulances’ available
Ambulance strikes could mean you might be taken to A&E in a TAXI, health minister admits as soldiers are drafted in to drive ambulances to non-emergency call
Even Keir Starmer says nurses strikes are unaffordable: Labour begs union to negotiate with ministers as Health Secretary admits caving into demand for a 19% pay hike would divert cash from NHS
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