Ambulance wait times in SW double as heart attack victims left waiting one hour or more

By Alan Quick   |   Editorial Manager/Photojournalist   |
Monday 9th May 2022 2:05 pm
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(Alan Quick, Crediton Courier )

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THE Liberal Democrats have blasted the Conservative Government for presiding over an ambulance waiting time crisis “spiralling out of control”, as shocking new figures show that people across the South West are facing increasingly dangerous delays for medical help.

A Parliamentary Question tabled by the party’s health spokesperson Daisy Cooper has uncovered that people living in the South West region who suffer a heart attack will wait more than 20 minutes longer than the national average.

The PQ shows that the South West has the longest ambulance waiting times in the country for emergency calls by some distance - a typical response will take nearly 15 minutes longer than in the North West, the second worst performing region.

The average wait time for an ambulance for category 2 calls (i.e. heart attacks and strokes) has doubled to more than one hour in the past two years, while the average wait for category 3 (i.e. burns and births) is up to almost three hours.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for emergency action to be taken in the upcoming Queen’s Speech to address the crisis and give paramedics and handlers the support they need.

This includes urgent investment in A and E departments and a new Community Ambulance Fund, as well as a review of ambulance station closures in the region.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said: “Boris Johnson has broken trust with people again and again, now he is in charge of a system where if you dial 999 you don’t know if anyone will arrive in time.

“Staff are at breaking point and lives are in danger.

“People across the West Country have been abandoned by the Conservatives in their shocking failure to address long waiting times for an ambulance.

“Liberal Democrats have been sounding the alarm for months and months.

“This issue is spiralling out of control and it’s simply not good enough that Johnson and his Government are turning a blind eye. Ignoring this crisis won’t stop the heartbreaking stories we hear every day of people stranded for hours on end waiting for help that too often comes too late.

“Patients and families across the South West deserve better than waiting in pain and distress, or even worse, losing loved ones. After years of driving the region’s NHS into the ground, the Conservatives really need to wake up to this life threatening crisis, make a plan and turn this around.

“We need to see that plan in the Queen’s Speech this Tuesday so that this issue is treated with the urgency it demands.”

The average ambulance response time for category 2 calls in 2021/22 for South Western Ambulance Service was 1h, 1m and 57s. This is up from 28m and 37s in 2019/20; and is higher than the national average of 41 m and 17s.

The NHS target for Category 2 is 18 minutes. and at least nine out of 10 times (90th percentile) within 40 minutes.

The average ambulance response time for category 3 calls in 2021/22 for South Western Ambulance Service was 2h, 43m and 54s.  This is up from 1h, 17m and 17s in 2019/20; and is higher than the national average of 2h, 13m and 40s.

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