Ambulance Watch: Leading Norfolk doctor speaks out over threatened 999 team
A leading doctor has urged health chiefs to save a 999 response team and warned its scrapping could affect the treatment given to accident victims at the roadside.
As revealed in the EDP last Thursday the critical care desk (CCD), which sends out emergency doctors and paramedics to patients in life-threatening situations, could be scrapped in funding changes.
The desk was set up in the wake of the death of veterinary nurse Catherine Barton from Brandon, 27, who died in a car crash in 2011 after being left in her Ford Ka for more than 90 minutes.
Doctor Tony Press, who was belatedly called to help Miss Barton, said the CCD had made a huge difference to emergency response times.
Dr Press, who is chair of the Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS), said: “Since the CCD has been going I’ve attended many more seriously injured at the roadside. The ambulance service has been calling us earlier and that has made a huge difference.”
The desk is manned by senior paramedics 24 hours a day and calls out the critical care team to incidents where they are most needed. It also gives medical advice to paramedics.
It was introduced last August but the funding for it from Norfolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) is set to run out in April.
The PCT has said the ambulance service should look at funding it, while the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) wants the PCT to provide the cash.
Dr Press said that before the CCD was introduced NARS was often not called quickly enough or called out to incidents which were “not appropriate”. “The desk has had a big impact. Its loss would take us a long way back,” he said.
Dr Press added he was “dismayed” by the news the CCD could close.
“It is an invaluable service to the community,” he said.
“There are certain situations in critical injuries where if you start managing at the roadside you can save lives and disability. If you wait that extra hour then people can suffer long term.
“The PCT has a difficult job because they have to balance funding but from where I’m standing this service is essential.”
If lost the responsibility for calling out the emergency team to life-or-death incidents would revert back to local desks and it is likely that Dr Press and his team of highly-trained volunteers would respond to fewer emergencies.
The EDP launched its Ambulance Watch campaign in response to concerns over the East of England Ambulance Service Trust’s performance.