AMBULANCE chiefs say delays in getting to patients in Warwickshire are due to ‘long hospital handover delays’, with crews working ‘flat-out’ to reach patients as quickly as possible.
Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) Labour Group leader Coun John Holland has called for an urgent update on multiple reports that West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) had failed to reach patients in an acceptable time.
Back in January, WCC requested the chief executive of WMAS deliver an action plan to provide a better service to the county’s residents, but Coun Holland stressed he wanted action now.
He told the Observer: “Whilst we all have the utmost confidence in our paramedics and ambulance technicians – both their skills and their dedication to their job, I am really extremely concerned about the service that West Midlands Ambulance Service are providing to us in Warwickshire.
“The Labour group are now asking to see what can be done to improve the service right now, as residents’ safety needs to be the top priority.
“I would like to say that I’m sure that under-funding has played a big part in performance issues and have nothing but praise for the dedicated work of our local ambulance service personnel.”
WMAS said long hospital handover delays were having a knock-on effect on the quality of its service.
A spokesperson explained:“The ambulance service relies on each part of the health and social care system working together so that our ambulances can get to patients in the community quickly.
“Sadly, the pressures we are seeing in health and social care lead to long hospital handover delays with our crews left caring for patients that need admitting to hospital outside A&E rather than responding to the next call. The result is that our crews are delayed reaching patients, sometimes by many hours.
“We are working incredibly hard with all of our NHS and social care partners to prevent these delays, looking at new ways to safely hand over patients quickly so that our crews can respond more rapidly and save more lives.
“Whilst the service is under very considerable pressure the staff in our control rooms and our operational ambulances are working flat out to reach patients as quickly as possible, but long hospital handover delays mean some patients are waiting far longer for an ambulance to come to them than we would want.”
The Coventry and Warwickshire Ambulance Trust became part of the West Midlands Ambulance Service in 2006. The larger service was thought to be more efficient as resources could be shared and a central call centre established so more resources could be put into frontline services.