Once more a shortage of ambulances makes the news…
A man stabbed outside a pub was taken to hospital in a fire engine because the area's three ambulances were busy…
…An ambulance service spokesman said: “The three vehicles on duty in the Maesteg area were already committed.
“The nearest available ambulance was at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and this was dispatched but was stood down when police responders informed control that they would convey the patient in a fire brigade vehicle
What strikes me as amusing is that I heard of a fire engine bringing a traffic accident in my local hospital only a few days ago – once more because of a lack of ambulances, and this is in London, not Maesteg. Once more the demand for ambulances far outstrips the actual number of ambulances we have available.
At the moment the London Ambulance Service is at 'level 3' in our 5 point scale of how busy we are. So, despite not having the money for it (thanks to the government taking a large chunk of our budget away from us to pay another hospital trusts bills), we are having to pay people for overtime in order to keep the service running to the standard that the government and the public expect.
It's long been known that the ambulance service runs on it's overtime, and our ORCON times have been dropping through the floor because until now we haven't had the funds to pay for overtime (due to the aforementioned government taking money away from us). Now it is reaching a crisis it seems that we have found the money for overtime somewhere – I suspect by 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'.
It's a simple formula, 'Too many calls (often for rubbish) + not enough ambulances + high expectations from the public of the service we provide + demoralised staff = long waiting times for ambulances, delays getting to genuine life-threatening calls and an unhappy public/government'.
Large swathes of the population expect an ambulance for every cough, cold and sniffle – the government is unwilling to pay for this expectation and so the ambulance service gets squeezed from both sides.
In April we tell the government if we have made our targets. I hope that we don't make them this year. If we make the targets after the government has cut our budget, then what incentive do they have for giving us our pre-cut budget back?
If we make our targets, then we will have made a rod for our own backs.
For those that don't read the comments Pandop mentioned a column showing this problem from the other side of the fence. Thanks Pandop.
UPDATE: Edited to correct my mistake – we are actually at level 3, not level 4 as originally written.