Paramedics say sorry for ‘failing’ patients with ‘overstretched’ service

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 December 2017

Paramedics have apologised to the public for ‘failing’ them as they are struggling to maintain a ‘crumbling service’ which is ‘overstretched’.

South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT) paramedics issued the apology through an open letter, saying sorry for not getting to patients quickly enough and for leaving them in ambulances and hospital corridors for hours.

The letter, signed by the ‘concerned SWASFT ambulance employees’, called on the service’s chief executive to stand down for ‘ignoring our complaints’.

Medics said in a letter issued through the union GMB: “We are struggling to maintain a crumbling service. We are sorry for the patients and family members who have been left on the floor for hours as consequence of not getting to you on time.

“We are sorry when you remain in the ambulance or in the hospital corridor for hours when we are stacked at A&Es because we cannot complete our handover.”

One North Somerset paramedic, who asked to remain anonymous, spoke to the Times about his experience working in the field and the ‘detrimental effect’ the changes to the NHS’s budget and day-to-day operation has had.

He said: “The fact is that you come to work and try to do your best but it becomes very frustrating when there are other factors to contend with which are out of your control.

“The retention rate for the ambulance service is appalling and we are working an almost impossible new shift pattern.”

The paramedic said 12-hour shifts, which sometimes over-run by three or four hours, has had a huge impact on the mental and physical health of his colleagues.

He added: “It is difficult enough switching to critical care mode in a minute but we cannot provide the best care possible when we are exhausted.”

He also raised some concerns about the night-time closure of Weston General Hospital’s A&E – which closed on July 4 – saying it is ‘frustrating’ for a North Somerset ambulance worker to have to travel to Taunton or Bristol when timing can be ‘critical’ in emergencies.

SWASFT chief executive Ken Wenman said he recognised the pressure staff are under and is working with Unison, the recognised ambulance service union, to improve both resource levels and response times.

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