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Richard Drax MP: Streamline the service to ease A&E problems
WE’VE heard a great deal about the problems in A&E recently.
Tight budgets, lack of consultants on evenings and weekends and teething problems with the new 111 service have created a crisis. And with fewer GPs on duty at weekends, more and more people are referring themselves directly to hospital.
I don’t like statistics, but I think a few in this case highlight the growing problem. Nationally, there are almost five million emergency journeys by ambulance per year.
Emergency calls to the ambulance service in the south west have risen by eight per cent to nearly 600,000 a month. Of those, just under half are taken to A&E. And the less urgent 111 service has added to the strain, with call outs increasing by 18 per cent at weekends.
Once ambulances reach hospital, bottlenecks at busy times in A&E require crews to remain with their patients until they can be formally handed over. This clearly reduces the number of vehicles available.
Meanwhile, resources continued to be stretched as rising demand is countered by annual savings imposed on the service.
Ambulance leaders negotiating on behalf of their members are concerned that, without more support from the Government, the ambulance service is in jeopardy.
We have been so used to a superb ambulance service in this country that any decline really does leave a mark.
Government and ambulance Trusts must work together to ensure that this valued service is not undermined to the point it can no longer deliver.
I would suggest that means a 111 service that works, adequate GP cover at nights and weekends and less emphasis on Government targets and more cash. Finally, throwing £500 million at failing A&E services is one thing, but don’t forget the wonderful men and women who get them there.
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