Emergency services could ‘collapse’ in August, stranding 999 callers, boss warns

An NHS ambulance service could be completely out of action this summer without urgent help, bosses warn.

West Midlands Ambulance Service chief of care Mark Docherty said it will be too busy to respond to 999 calls by August.

Ambulance services across the UK are struggling with demand and staff shortages


Ambulance services across the UK are struggling with demand and staff shortagesCredit: Alamy

Hospitals are so full that it takes paramedics hours or even days to relieve patients and get back on the road.

Mr Docherty told the Health Service Journal that every day patients are dying because of delays.

He said: “A third of our resources will be lost to delays and that means we simply cannot respond.

“It’s going to be a bit like a Titanic moment. It’s going to be a mathematical certainty that this thing is sinking, and by then it’ll be pretty well past the tipping point.”

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NHS figures show ambulance wait times are among the longest ever.

It comes when Dr. Glasgow MSP Sandesh Gulhane said Scotland’s ambulance service was “at breaking point” with waiting times rising.

In England in March, it took crews across England an average of one hour and one minute to reach patients suffering from a stroke or heart attack.

April statistics show West Midlands ambulances are among the fastest for urgent calls but among the slowest for less urgent category 3 or 4 jobs.

At a WMAS board meeting on Wednesday, Mr Docherty said staff were “working their socks off” to try and fix the problem.

An NHS spokesman said: “The NHS has been working hard to reduce ambulance delays and £150m in extra funding has been made available to push ambulances in 2022-23.

“There is no doubt that the NHS is still under pressure.

“The latest figures are another reminder of the vital importance of community and social care to help people in hospital get out of hospital when they are able, not just because it’s better for them, but because.” it helps free up valuable NHS bed space.”

Mr Docherty’s warning comes after emergency health chiefs warned this month that many people would be better off taking a taxi or lift to A&E rather than waiting for an ambulance.

dr Katherine Henderson, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “I would look very carefully at what alternatives I had.

“We are seeing an increasing number of patients making their own way to the hospital.

“Our walk-in queue is no longer made up of patients who managed to get in — it may have been patients who should have come by ambulance.”

Ambulances had their busiest April ever for life and death calls, and more than two million people visited the emergency room, with 480,000 hospitalized.

A record 24,138 people waited more than 12 hours for a bed in a ward.

Response times have improved from a low point in March, but are still well below target. Emergency services could ‘collapse’ in August, stranding 999 callers, boss warns

Sarah Y. Kim

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