I’ve read a lot of news stories and posts on the socials about ambulance waiting times, and people who may or may not have died as a result of ambulance delays (the fact they don’t get investigated makes me sceptical).
We all know news companies and media companies love scandal and sensationalism, but why have a go at ambulance crews?
I regularly get messages from a friend and former colleague about the waiting times at their local A&E department. 3 hours, 4 hours… An ambulance crew doesn’t just dump patients at the door and trot off to the next job. They must wait for a nurse or doctor and give a detailed handover before they can leave. I know of one major hospital where the A&E department that was rebuilt and doubled in size a few years ago, and is still manned by the same number of staff as the old department.
Nor do ambulance crews hang around once a job has been allocated to them. Whe someone calls 999 (or 112) and requests an emergency ambulance the call taker will ask questions and follow an algorithm on their screen. The result will add the job to a list according to the level of priority the system decides. Ambulance crews have no involvement in this process.
There are, and always have been faults in the above system, and paranoia on the part of the call takers can often make smaller jobs into bigger ones.
Then there are the time wasters, the ones who know all the key words to use to get up the list, when they don’t actually need to go to hospital at all. And the ones who call for an ambulance because the waiting time for an appointment at their local surgery is too long (yes, that happens…a lot!).
These things all add on to the time before the job is even allocated to an ambulance. I could list many other types of time wasters.
Maybe, instead of the Scottish government talking of using the army to drive ambulances (so they can add to the waiting times standing in the queues in A&E departments too?) they and the other politicians could look at the overall problems and maybe find a sensible solution to the whole problem.
In the meantime, don’t take it out on ambulance crews. This problem is far from new, it’s been an issue for many years now. Those ambulance crews (and call takers, dispatchers, A&E staff…) are doing their best with what they have.
Those ambulance crews are the same ones you made rainbows for, the same ones you stood on your doorstep and clapped for this time last year!!!