Investigation Under Way

This is a terrible story, in which a 16 year old boy waited for two hours for an ambulance to transfer him from the ward he was on into the ITU ward. The reason for the wait? The three ambulances parked outside the A&E department couldn't offload their patients onto hospital trolleys, because the department was too busy.

I'm curious why the doctor couldn't arrange to push the patient the 300 yards to the ITU, granted the patient was on oxygen, but I've personally done longer and more critical transfers than this.
A Staffordshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokesman said: “We are supporting a complete investigation.

Which sounds familiar…

…there was an extensive investigation into events of that day. Doctor goes to patient, doesn't recognise a heart attack – calls for an 'Urgent' (not Emergency) ambulance patient then has to wait seven hours for ambulance – Ambulance trust is blamed for her death

…and said the incident was being reviewed Ambulance not available, so fire fighters (who have a defib) are sent – patient ends up dead

…and are holding an investigation. No one should have to wait half-an-hour.” Patient collapses and dies, waits 30 minutes for an ambulance

…said the service was investigating the matter. GP calls for 'Urgent' Ambulance, leaves patient and patient waits 8 hours for ambulance

They have said that an investigation into the incident is planned. Elderly woman in nursing home cuts her leg and waits 7 hours for an ambulance

Your homework is to find more of your own – just type “ambulance investigation” into your favourite news-site search box.

Investigation is underway, is normally a euphemism for “The crew have been suspended”, whether it is the crews fault or not. Gps call for a non-emergency ambulance for patients who are critically ill – then leave the patient alone in their house. Community Psychiatric Nurses refuse to visit patients, Midwives send home women who are about to give birth, nursing homes have no idea how to treat minor injuries and illnesses, people can't get to see their GP, so are told to phone for an ambulance – and the government expects us to reach children under the age of two who have runny noses before 70 year olds who have just had a stroke.

Realise that most of these complaints are because of delays in getting to patients. There is a reason for this – we are getting 'overflow' from other health services…

All the other health services have someone else to call, at all hours of the day,

GPs who are busy tell their patients to call and ambulance.

CPNs who finish their shift tell their patients to call an ambulance.

NHS Direct tell people to call an ambulance because they are scared to offer decent self-treatment advice.

GPs no longer have to go out at night, so guess what – call an ambulance.

Catheter blocked? District Nurse won't come out? Don't worry, they'll call an ambulance.

Unfortunately we don't have this luxury, the ambulance services and A&E are the 'safety net', every bad job comes down to us, and because we are the last to see people it is often seen as 'our fault'. We are overworked, underfunded, understaffed and don't have the vehicles we need. We are seen as being 'always there', both by the public and other health care providers and they can always pass their jobs down to us.

Is it any wonder so many things are 'our fault', and that our management are always 'investigating'?

18 thoughts on “Investigation Under Way”

  1. My response, too, was why on earth didn't they just carry him there (or push on a trolley, if you have a bit more technical knowledge than me). If he was my child, I can't imagine I'd wait even five minutes for an ambulance to move him 300 yeards, if I could get him there myself and save his life. What were they thinking? We'll loiter about incompetently and then blame someone else when he dies? Surely not.Karen


  2. I also, immediately on hearing the story on the news, wondered why they didn't just put him on a trolley and wheel him there. And why they didn't do that in the first place instead of calling for an ambulance transfer.300yds isn't very far, especially when you consider the length of some hospital corridors. I've a friend (who's a House Officer) who regularly runs half a mile from her room to answer a cardiac bleep.

  3. The way I heard it on R4 last night was that the ambulances weren't unloaded because of concern about Government targets.A patient is supposed to get seen within 4 hours of their arrival at A&E. If patients are held in the ambulances, they aren't registered, so the clock hasn't started ticking.

  4. Exactly, although we can't be sure that this is what happened in this case (although the rumour is that one of the patients was an eye injury – which could go in a chair).And you have just pre-empted my next but one post.

  5. I have known a certain large hospital on the outskirts of Liverpool to have several ambulances unable to go back out because their last patient is still on the ambulance trolley in A &E as there are not enough trolleys inside the hospital to accommodate them. How on earth can we be in such a mess in the allegedly civilised 21st century!!

  6. I couldn't agree more about the crapness of Community Mental Health [apart from a fantastic CPN who was obviously unusual]. The local [I've moved now] support team once hung up on me for being 'too negative' when depressed….!There is also the problem of the public panicking when people with mental health problems get into a bad situation. Many times i've warned people of things that might happen, and that calling an ambulance is a waste of everyone's time, yet when it did happen, lo and behold an ambulance was called.

    Having said that, I've also been sent home from casualty departments by Doctors who assessed me as high risk, only to be re-admitted in an ambulance a few hours or days later when I'd gone down there to save them the trouble of calling an ambulance later in the first place…

    Thankfully I'm lots better now (and despite being in London, not near your patch šŸ˜‰


  7. I recently fell in the street, breaking and dislocating the little finger on my dominant hand. Rather than call an ambulance, I took public transport to the hospital. In my book, ambulances are for serious injuries and/or emergencies.I believe that anyone calling an ambulance should think “would I be satisfied if my mother/spouse/child was having a heart attack and the ambulance was delayed because of someone calling 999 for the injury I have?” If the answer is yes, then call an ambulance, if not then find your own way to the hospital.

    If only the general public would show common sense, these problems wouldn't arise.


  8. If I'd read this post a fortnight ago then I might have thought twice about ringing for an ambulance when I (well, my mate) really needed one a few days later. I'm glad I didn't hesitate. The ambulance turned up in under 5 minutes, in central London, on a Saturday night! And we got straight into A&E without queueing either. All this makes me realise just how lucky we were. When the system works, it works well.

  9. It's a problem we, and the A&E departments have – I can't count how many times we've been called and when we have turned up the person has been surprised we got there so quickly!Then they start moaning about how long they will have to wait in A&E, when 98% of patients are seen, treated and either admitted or discharged within 4 hours. (At least in the hospital I like to take them to).

    But the local newspapers don't publish those stories on the front page – not when they can blame someone for something going wrong.

  10. Too many sick people + Too few beds + Lots of elective surgery is the simple answer.But sometimes the wards stop admitting patients (because it is near the end of their shift and they don't want to do the paperwork) – and then it is up to a Bed Manager with teeth to get things moving.

    Of course, sometimes the ward doesn't want to admit anyone because they haven't got the right 'staff balance' (i.e. enough competent nurses). It doesn't matter if A&E gets dangerously overcrowded – as long as the wards stay 'safe', it's almost expected that bad things happen in A&E.

  11. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahahahahahah…..Giggle



    'Common Sense', I love it!

    Go on, tell me another joke…

  12. While it probably seems reasonable when you've seen how long delays *could* be, and how much the staff have to do, 4 hours is an awfully long time to be sitting in A&E. I know it's *within* 4, but people are bound to consider worst-case.

  13. I wonder why Staffordshire seem to only have three ambulances. New reports say three ambulances were being kept outside A&E to house patients, fair enough, this shouldn't happen and those ambulances could have been better used elsewhere attending emergencies/urgents/watching TV on station. But what about the rest of the fleet? If a person on the street had called 999, they would get an ambulance from somewhere, it might take 10-20minutes, but they would get one. Why should the hospital have to wait two hours when they call 999?The flip side of this is the patient was in a ward under the care of a doctor. OK, he needs to be in ICU where they have more resources, but adequate care could be provided whee he was, it just means staff are taken away from other areas to concentrate on looking after this one poor kid. It is most likely he would have died anyway, its not as if he spent 2 hours on the street or at home waiting for treatment.

  14. Perhaps the parents should have dialled 999, and called another ambulance, which would then have been obliged to meet some sort of response target.Karen Uborka

  15. I agree not sure why moving a patient 300 yards up a corridor neccesitates an ambulance. It's not ideal but I have done worse myself whilst i was a nurse in order to get the patient the right treatment.As someone who went to 'the dark side' of management and worked to try and address some of these A&E problems I was really frustrated by the way nobody would take any reaponsibility for what happened. In my book we shouldn't need bed managers if people pulled together, also getting medics/ surgeons to actually assess patients could really move things on but just doesn't happen. Nobody sees A&E as their problem whereas it just so happens to be everyone's problem. Personally I was left pretty jaded and upset. there was no real drive to think about patients in all of this (but who am I to comment as a mangager i had my heart surgically removed on day one) Too much taking home of bat and ball going on.

  16. “How on earth can we be in such a mess in the allegedly civilised 21st century!!”Something to do with it being a state monopoly I imagine.

    Who expects anything else from a system that's run for the benefit of bureaucrats and politicians?

  17. apologies if this appears twice, my pc threw a wobbly on me as I was posting.unrelated, but it reminds me of trying to get my child, complete with oxygen and IV drip from A&E to children's ward at midnight. They loaded her into a small hospital car, which wouldnt start; so they tried to push start it. Unsuccessfully. Into a cul de sac. For some reason we couldnt use our car to transport her, but we did use it to jump start the hospital vehicle. It took about an hour, in mid December, to transport an asthmatic child and (ok, I admit it almost hysterical) mother a straight line 500 yard distance that covered about a mile. It was just so surreal. She's ok, btw

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *