Figures show that so far this year more than 40 people have died after delays at an emergency service.
The number of deaths in the West Midlands is at a six-year high, not counting the final month of 2022.
The figure may be revealed as ambulance staff today go on strike over pay and staff, with the health secretary warning the 999 system will come under “heavy pressure”.
In June 2022, nine patients were pronounced dead on arrival at hospital following calls to the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) – the highest number of any month over the period.
A total of 44 people died before treatment or surgery, according to WMAS, which serves a population of 5.6 million.
The service today told Metro.co.uk that the “vast majority” of incidents were due to lengthy delays in hospital delivery and that it was “working incredibly hard” to speed up the process.
Around 25,000 ambulance workers in England and Wales walk out today under intense pressure, which includes the worst waiting times in emergency departments.
The strikes include one by GMB which started at 00:00 and lasts until midnight and another by Unison which starts at 12:00 and has the same ending time. Around 600 military personnel were drafted to fill the manpower gap.
The participating rescue workers have shared with Metro.co.uk how ambulances are effectively being used as ‘hospital cubicles’ outside of congested emergency departments. One described how frustrated crews sometimes spend entire 12-hour shifts handing over patients.
Emergency responders, including paramedics, paramedics and call attendants, are joining the industrial action, but will respond to the most serious of emergencies that cannot otherwise be covered.
These include Category 1 emergency calls for life and limb and some Category 2 emergency calls covering emergencies such as burns, stroke and epilepsy.
The action, which also involves the Unite union, follows the government’s statement that “economic circumstances” mean that a wage increase above inflation is unaffordable. Health Secretary Steve Barclay today warned that “the system will be under very severe pressure” and people should “use common sense in relation to their activities”.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “The Government has had months to step in and end this dispute. They decided against it.
“It is Steven Barclay who is blackmailing the country, not the unions. He will have to carry the can when patients suffer.
“The West Midlands Ambulance Trust’s shocking statistics tell the real story. Where were the government’s ‘well-established contingency plans’ when people were dying in the West Midlands because the emergency services crisis meant an ambulance couldn’t reach them in time?
“This government is guilty of criminal negligence in having hollowed out the NHS long ago. The strikers are actually trying to save the service.”
A BBC Newsnight inquiry broadcast earlier this month found the number of people in the West Midlands who died after an ambulance was delayed had risen from one in 2020 to 37 by September this year.
In 2017 there were no incidents at all, followed by two the year after.
Since the show aired, the number has risen to 44 amid labor unrest, which includes another strike on December 28.
One patient, Darren Childs, told how he was waiting 47 minutes for an ambulance when his 12-month-old daughter Myla stopped breathing for a while.
With the target response time being seven minutes, Mr Childs, from Shropshire, expressed his fears that “we are losing the NHS”.
A 400 percent increase in serious incidents, defined as preventable serious consequences caused by problems with caregiving, has also occurred at the trust, according to documents seen by Newsnight.
Trust Board minutes show that many incidents were related to treatment for cardiac arrest and asphyxia, but a senior insider told program makers that a major cause was long handover delays.
The service claims it is now taking less than 50% of patients to the emergency department, with a clinical validation team on hand to help over the phone or arranging referrals to other parts of the NHS such as occupational therapy or advanced nurses in the community.
This aims to free up ambulances for those who need them most, with further programs including an ambulance decision-making area at Birmingham University Hospitals said to have cut delays by half.
The dedicated area is manned by experienced paramedics and ambulance assistants with additional skills who can relieve crews by beginning tests before patients enter the emergency room. WMAS also claims it has the best answering service in the country.
A spokesman said: “We have seen a significant increase in cases that have been labeled as serious incidents.
“In the vast majority of these, patients have been harmed because ambulance crews were unable to respond to patients in a timely manner due to delays in hospital handovers.
“The emergency medical service relies on all parts of the health and social care system working together to enable our ambulances to reach patients in the community quickly.
“Unfortunately, the pressures we are seeing in health and social care are resulting in long delays in hospital handovers as our crews tend to patients who need to be hospitalized rather than responding to the next call.
“The result is that our crews reach the patients with a delay.
“We are working incredibly hard with all our NHS and social care partners to prevent these delays and are looking at new ways to transfer patients quickly and safely so our crews can respond faster and save more lives.”
A spokesman for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “We are aware of the pressures the emergency services are facing and are investing a further £3.3 billion for both next year and the year after to improve the performance of the emergency and emergency services Rapidly improve emergency care to pre-pandemic levels.
“For this winter, the Government has allocated an extra £500m to speed up hospital discharges and free up beds – and the NHS is creating the equivalent of at least 7,000 more general and acute beds to meet waiting times for A&E admissions To shorten. and get ambulances back on the road quickly.
“We have also made significant investments in ambulance staff – the number of NHS ambulance and support staff has increased by over 40% since September 2010 – and NHS England will publish a long-term staffing plan next year to recruit and retain more staff. ‘
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/12/21/more-than-40-people-died-this-year-after-delays-at-ambulance-trust-17974965/ More than 40 people have died this year following delays at the Ambulance Trust