Patients conveyed to Kent Hospitals by South East Coast Ambulance Services [SECamb] have been waiting 9-10 hours in the back of ambulances before they could be seen in Emergency Departments [ED]
The handover delays are also causing permanent harm to those needing urgent care leading to deaths in the back of ambulances and dying soon after finally getting admitted to hospital after spending long periods in the back of an ambulance, while others still in their own homes are not being saved because paramedics are trapped at A&E and unable to answer 999 calls, according to SECamb.
SECamb have never before seen delays in being able to handover patients at emergency departments, due to the impacts on patient flow caused by COVID and other contributory issues. Regularly, the daily total delays in ambulances and patients kept waiting have exceeded the hours they would previously have lost in a whole week.
Area covered by SECamb
This situation is reflected across all ambulance services in the UK as reported by The Guardian.
SECamb have seen an increased demand at a time when the resources they have available to respond to patients, both on the road and in our control centres, is being significantly impacted by the numbers of staff affected by various COVID-related issues, a busy annual leave period and high sickness levels. Absence related to mental health as a proportion of all sickness is at its highest since August 2020 and is cause for significant concern.
Covid-19 has a lot to answer for putting SECamb staff who work under enormous pressure under even more pressure. Staff cannot be held responsible for these systemic failings due to Covid.
SECamb are now operating at level four under the national Resource Escalation Action Plan (REAP), a framework designed to maintain an effective and safe operational and clinical response for patients.
This means that while the service attempts to operate a normal service, its response standards to potentially life-threatening calls has deteriorated.
SECamb expect further surges of Covid – in November, plus another later in the winter.
During the pandemic the cost of Private Ambulance Providers by SECamb to cover the shortages in their numbers of ambulances available rose 425% . SECamb spent £92,000 on private ambulance providers in August 2020, by August 2021, this had risen to £482,000.
One Secamb paramedic said of Private Ambulance Provider crews:
“We as crews think they are not as well trained as us and we regularly have to travel with them and the patient to hospital because they cannot cope.
“They are good people but don’t have the same level of training as Secamb staff. This is not good for the patient as their skill set is well below ours. Often they call up asking for para backup, meaning they can’t manage that patient.”
Covid along with all other health care issues, GP not seeing patients, Care Homes Issues, etc, has placed an enormous burden of all sectors of the NHS and will continue to do so for a good while to come.
If you are eligible for a booster vaccine, or a flu jab, we would suggest you get them sooner rather than later.
The Shepway Vox Team
Thanks & Gratitude to all NHS Staff & SECamb Paramedics.