Patients’ lives at risk over ambulance call-outs, warns UNISON

Ambulance crews are having to ignore call-outs for heart-attack and stroke patients because emergency vehicles are too busy queuing outside a Portsmouth hospital, UNISON said.

Fifty people including seriously ill patients were left without an ambulance on Monday 2 January this year despite calling South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), according to new data.

The figures show that cutbacks at Queen Alexandra Hospital are putting lives are at risk, says UNISON.

Call-handlers were powerless to help because 22 ambulances – nearly the entire SCAS fleet – were outside the hospital waiting to hand over patients to overstretched A&E staff.

UNISON regional organiser Sarah O’Donoghue said:

“The anxiety suffered by patients and relatives is unimaginable. They’re being left waiting desperately for an ambulance that never comes.

“This is what happens when cutbacks leave people unable to see a GP or hospitals without spare beds because there’s nowhere to discharge patients once they’re better.

“Ambulance staff are going above and beyond to cope with demand and save lives. But unless urgent action is taken it’s only a matter of time before there’s a tragedy.”