'Lives are at risk' from ambulance delays, claims paramedic

A PARAMEDIC claims lives are being put ‘at risk’ in South Lakeland after a pensioner was left waiting in agony for nearly two hours with a broken hip.

Paul Carlisle, an emergency medical technician, said emerg- ency patients often faced long waits for ambulances after dialling 999.

In Staveley, 74-year-old fall victim Ken Dixon was wrapped in a duvet and comforted by bar staff outside his local pub while he waited 95 minutes for an ambulance.

Now the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust has said it will put in place a new system to improve waiting times for patients arriving by ambulance at the RLI.

Mr Carlisle, a Unison ambulance representative, said: “On the night in question there were 10 ambulances queued up at the RLI and all the crews from South Lakeland were waiting two-and-a-half hours so there were no ambulances in the district to deal with other 999 calls.

“Lives were at risk. If there had been a serious crash on the motorway it does not bear thinking about what might have happened.”

Ken Dixon, of Staveley, waited in the cold and dark swaddled in a duvet and coats until 12.45am after a fall outside the Eagle and Child pub.

Related links

Barman Nicky Smith, who called an ambulance at 11.10pm, said: “I carried him to a bench a couple of feet away from where he fell. He was in shock and severe pain.

“We got as many coats as we could and put them around him thinking that the ambulance would be a short time away.

“At midnight I got a duvet and wrapped it around him and one of the other bar staff cuddled him to keep him warm.

“We didn’t move him because we were advised not to. Everyone who was there was upset about it and we were worried that he could have died.”

Mr Dixon was taken to Furness General Hospital and it is believed he is still in hospital.

The Westmorland Gazette has learned of other incidents during the same weekend with a number of emergency cases waiting for ambulances.

Mr Carlisle said crews from South Lakeland were often diverted to jobs in north Lancashire.

He said: “The situation at the moment is dangerous and if the problem is not sorted soon then there will be more instances of this in the summer.”

Staveley councillor Stan Collins said he was ‘shocked’ that people had to wait so long to seek medical attention and added: “Although Mr Dixon did not have life-threatening injuries, he was left in a position in which his health could have seriously deteriorated.”

The North West Ambu-lance Service said it works closely with all hospitals to ‘ensure that turnaround times are kept to the absolute minimum’ but said there were periods of high demand which caused times to increase.

A spokesman said the trust ‘appreciated’ staff concerns but life-threatening incidents were given top priority and that the nearest ambulance was sent to all calls.

Tim Bennett, acting UHMBT chief executive, said delays at the RLI two weekends ago were caused by an outbreak of a norovirus coupled with a peak in demand for emergency services.

He accepted that patients sometimes had to wait ‘unacceptably long’ times to be seen in the emergency department at the RLI and added: “We have recognised that there is a need to improve patient experience and reduce waiting times in emergency care at the hospital.”

He said new procedures would see ‘appropriate’ patients admitted to the medical assessment unit or clinical decisions unit, not to the emergency department.

He said that the £1.5million extension at the RLI would also help to address the issues.

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:14am Thu 15 Mar 12

davidearnshaw says...

Once again we have the standard mantra from management "a peak" in demand for emergency services ---- so many times have they used the statement "peaks and troughs" for work load ---- a vital service such as this, serving such a wide area, should never not be able to cope with the peaks, it is indeed a great worry to us all that an elderly gentleman had to wait so long outside in the cold night for the urgent care that should have been given for his injury, and that all our emergency Ambulances were waiting so long to hand over patients to A & E staff ( surely some priority must be given to these vehicles and their crews over the Lancaster vehicles, as they have to travel so far back to their home patch -- South Lakes -- more careful triage required here !!!! ----- yes we can be somewhat heartened by the news that 1.5 million K improvements are to be made, but that does not address the issue right now and for the forthcoming year of holidays etc with the massive increase in our population ---- I call on the new management team to give this area top priority, and do whatever it takes to provide us with a "Peak Coping" service at Lancaster A & E
Once again we have the standard mantra from management "a peak" in demand for emergency services ---- so many times have they used the statement "peaks and troughs" for work load ---- a vital service such as this, serving such a wide area, should never not be able to cope with the peaks, it is indeed a great worry to us all that an elderly gentleman had to wait so long outside in the cold night for the urgent care that should have been given for his injury, and that all our emergency Ambulances were waiting so long to hand over patients to A & E staff ( surely some priority must be given to these vehicles and their crews over the Lancaster vehicles, as they have to travel so far back to their home patch -- South Lakes -- more careful triage required here !!!! ----- yes we can be somewhat heartened by the news that 1.5 million K improvements are to be made, but that does not address the issue right now and for the forthcoming year of holidays etc with the massive increase in our population ---- I call on the new management team to give this area top priority, and do whatever it takes to provide us with a "Peak Coping" service at Lancaster A & E davidearnshaw
  • Score: 0

9:30am Thu 15 Mar 12

gadgetgadget says...

Well said David - although I would question whether some resources should also be ploughed into providing a "relief" A&E service at WGH too - especially for more minor injury patients.

Sadly, the £1.5m improvements will not tackle all of the issues which surround the queuing at RLI such as lack of beds in other wards, staffing shortages etc.

This is sadly just ONE of a series of instances where this sort of incident of queuing ambulances has happened. UHMBT/old PCT were warned quite clearly when they were reconfiguring the A&E services from WGH that this would occur. They still haven't learnt to admit they were wrong - same old excuses being wheeled out. The nature of A&E is that they should always be prepared for the maximum but hope for the minimum of attendances.

Today's editorial in the printed edition of the WG makes for interesting reading - especially the comments from the new chairman. He doesn't need to just listen to staff he needs to listen to local opinion about WHERE we NEED local services not just follow other models.
Well said David - although I would question whether some resources should also be ploughed into providing a "relief" A&E service at WGH too - especially for more minor injury patients. Sadly, the £1.5m improvements will not tackle all of the issues which surround the queuing at RLI such as lack of beds in other wards, staffing shortages etc. This is sadly just ONE of a series of instances where this sort of incident of queuing ambulances has happened. UHMBT/old PCT were warned quite clearly when they were reconfiguring the A&E services from WGH that this would occur. They still haven't learnt to admit they were wrong - same old excuses being wheeled out. The nature of A&E is that they should always be prepared for the maximum but hope for the minimum of attendances. Today's editorial in the printed edition of the WG makes for interesting reading - especially the comments from the new chairman. He doesn't need to just listen to staff he needs to listen to local opinion about WHERE we NEED local services not just follow other models. gadgetgadget
  • Score: 0

12:25pm Thu 15 Mar 12

Roysyboy says...

I think that we need a campaign to turn Westmorland General Hospital into a proper district general hospital in order to help solve this problem.

And there is no time like the present, Tim Farron, for you to give such a campaign a real boost.
I think that we need a campaign to turn Westmorland General Hospital into a proper district general hospital in order to help solve this problem. And there is no time like the present, Tim Farron, for you to give such a campaign a real boost. Roysyboy
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree