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Ambulance calls in Devon U.K. are being ‘missed’ as the healthcare crisis deepens

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As the U. K’s health system continues to plummet into a state of deepening crisis, urgent and life-threatening ambulance calls are being ‘missed’ in the rural township of Devon and in other parts of the U.K., and patients already sitting in hospital wait rooms across the country are being told they will have to wait up to 13 hours to be seen.

In Devon, seven minutes should be the average ambulance wait time for serious Category One calls for emergencies such as cardiac arrests.

As reported by Devon Live news, an investigation has revealed that this is however not the case. Data shows that as the health crisis escalates patients in Devon were already waiting an average of 15 minutes for emergency services in 2021, and now ‘Ambulance waiting time targets for life-threatening calls are being missed in every part of Devon.

The investigation, led by the Liberal Democrats also revealed that expected wait times for Category Two calls related to strokes and severe burns were also not meeting expected targets.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader and health spokesperson Daisy Cooper has called for urgent action to address the growing crisis and have set out a ‘rescue plan’ which involves greater funding and investment into local ambulance services and the recruitment and retention of more paramedics.

“Behind these figures are heart-breaking stories of people waiting in fear for an ambulance to arrive when they or a loved one urgently need one. People across Tiverton and Honiton are rightly deeply worried by the state of local ambulance services,” deputy leader Cooper said.

Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Foord said, “These figures show what our communities in Devon know already, health services here are being driven into the ground by years of Conservative neglect. Whether it’s waiting weeks to see a doctor or hours for an ambulance, it’s almost impossible to access health services when you need them.”

Ambulance response times are not the only area in the health system that has continued to ‘blow-out’ across the U.K.

The Evening Standard reported yesterday that Ambulance and Emergency (A&E) patients in Harlow were also being subjected to wait times of up to 13 hours.

A video shared on Twitter by Gary Sitton at the Princess Alexandra Hospital showed an A&E nurse addressing patients in the waiting room, which highlighted the ballooning crisis facing the U.K. health system.

In the footage taken last Monday evening, the hospital nurse tells patients that over 170 people are waiting in the department. The nurse said that 90 of those patients had not yet been seen and that wait times were around seven and a half hours. The nurse added,

“I will estimate that by the time I go home at eight o’clock in the morning some of you will still be here waiting for a doctor because the wait will get up to 12 of 13 hours. I will expect that.”

While the nurse said there was a shortage of hospital beds, she told patients that the hospital would do its best to look after them.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s response to the clip; when played to him on BBC Breakfast; attributed the ‘high levels of demand’ to the impact of Covid saying that he estimated that around 11 to 13 million people stayed away from health services because of the pandemic.

The Health Secretary told BBC Breakfast that the U.K. government intends to invest record amounts into ambulance trusts and the 111-calling service operating systems and said that last year additional emergency funds of £400 million were injected into A&E facilities around the country.

This injection of funds seems to have done little to ease ambulance wait times and the stress on hospitals attempting to cope with the ever-growing health crisis facing the U.K. health system.

As hospitals like the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust try to cope with the added pressures, patients are being urged to call NHS 111 services for non-urgent cases to ease the load on the 999-call service.

According to BBC Breakfast Prime Minister Boris Johnson had claimed the government had reduced wait times through its investment in the system, and claimed the government is ‘on target’ in its recruitment of a further 50,000 nurses.

The crisis is rampant across the U.K.

In May AINN reported on a Warwickshire mother whose 17-year-old son died of a cardiac arrest after waiting 17 minutes for West Midland Ambulance services.

Dangerous delays were also reported by AINN in May showing U.K. 999 callers were already experiencing wait times of up to an hour for ambulance services across the country.

In May we also reported the British Heart Foundation’s acknowledgment of the crisis and “dangerously long ambulance response times and harmful delays to treatment in overcrowded A&E departments.”

According to NHS data between March 2021 and February 2022, there were over 550 ‘serious safety reports’ filed by UK ambulance staff. These figures showed an increase of 312 reports during the same period between 2020 and 2021.

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