Ambulance cover in North Somerset not good enough according to workers who say service is ‘a joke’
PUBLISHED: 12:06 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:06 31 July 2017
The ambulance service has been accused of ‘playing with people’s lives’ by its staff, who fear there are not enough vehicles covering North Somerset.
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWASFT) has altered staff and vehicle rotas, leading to employees to hit out at the demand they now face.
SWASFT insists there is adequate cover, and says more double-crewed ambulances are available at peak times.
But the workers – who asked to remain anonymous – said they will spend an entire shift in Bristol, despite being assigned to North Somerset. They say once a patient has been taken to a Bristol hospital – something made more common by the closure of Weston’s A&E overnight – they may not make it back.
One paramedic said: “When we get into Bristol you won’t see us again, we will be called back to Bristol jobs. The only way we are going to get back to Weston, or Nailsea, is if they have got a P1 call, which is the highest priority you can get.
“We have had people left on the floor for two to three hours, people lying down with a broken hip freezing. That, to the ambulance service, is a low-priority call-out.
“The ambulance service is a joke. It is not worried about you, the public, or staff; it is just worried about target times.
“It’s playing with people’s lives – there’s no doubt about it.”
An emergency medical technician added: “We have left people waiting hours and they don’t understand why.”
SWASFT rolled out rota changes on July 3, just before Weston’s A&E closed overnight on safety grounds.
Hospital bosses say more ambulances have been put on to cope with the closure but SWASFT workers say as few as two ambulances operate out of Nailsea and out of Weston at night.
A SWASFT spokesman refuted the claim but did not give an alternative figure. They said North Somerset now has double-crewed ambulances on for an extra 26 hours each day.
He added: “We can provide an improved patient experience, making sure the right resources are in the right place at the right time to meet the growing public demand... and manage peak times in activity.
“Evidence shows patients with the most serious time-critical, life-threatening injuries have improved response times and ambulance resources stay local more of the time.”
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