Support floods in for Ambulance Watch campaign
06:30 06 October 2012
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009
Support has started to flood in for The Eastern Daily Press’ Ambulance Watch campaign.
In just its first day, dozens of readers took part in our survey and got in contact to tell us about their experiences of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST).
One email the EDP received was sent by a “desperate paramedic” shortly before the campaign had even launched. It highlights how staff are feeling in the service and the importance of keeping this issue in the spotlight.
It read: “Please keep on pressure and reporting stories regarding ambulance service delays. These are directly impacting on patient care and survival.
“I waited two hours 17 minutes for an immediate response ambulance with a critically ill patient while on a rapid response car.
“They pretend that a response car getting there within 30 mins solves issue... cars CANNOT transport patients!!! “We are losing vital ambulances in this region.
“How is this acceptable? Help!”
But not everyone’s experience of the ambulance service has been poor.
Patients have been telling us about the speedy and professional response they received.
One of those was architect Jim Bond, who fell from a work bench and broke his neck while cutting a hedge at his Cromer home in May.
The 62-year-old father-of-three said: “I fell off backwards and hit my head on the floor and snapped my neck.
“I broke two vertebrae and dislodged a disc, which in turn pushed on the spinal cord and caused paralysis.”
The first ambulance member of staff was on the scene within three or four minutes and an ambulance and the air ambulance arrived in about 30 minutes.
He was flown by the East Anglian Air Ambulance to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital before being transferred to a specialist spinal unit in Sheffield for an operation and rehabilitation.
Thankfully he is now on a long road to recovery and while walking is still difficult he hopes his mobility will continue to improve in the coming months.
He said: “I have no doubt that the speed and expertise of the service I received at this early stage, has greatly contributed to my ongoing recovery.
“Equally, the overall care and attention I have benefited from the NHS can not be over stated.
“I would not presume to say how the ambulance service should be run, but the speed of response to genuine 999 calls unquestionably has a direct consequence on the outcome of improved recovery for the patient.
“If it costs more money to provide the required response times, so be it.”
However, in the case of 90-year-old Joe Ludkin it took a lot longer for an ambulance to arrive.
The great grandfather-of-two was visiting friends in Old Buckenham when he fell in their hallway and broke his hip on September 11.
A paramedic arrived about 20 to 25 minutes later, but it took more than two and half hours for an ambulance to arrive and in the meantime Mr Ludkin could not be moved and was left lying on a cold, hard floor.
Mr Ludkin, who is nor recovering from a hip replacement operation at his home in Banham, said: “In no way can I fault the staff - both the nursing staff and ambulance staff. It’s not of their making, this problem.”
John Fernihough, who Mr Ludkin was visiting at the time of the fall, said: “It was quite a harrowing experience to be waiting for two-and-a-half to three hours when there is not much you can do and somebody is lying on the floor in pain.
“It’s a tiled floor and is quite cold and he was in shock as well.”
A spokeswoman for EEAST said: “The call was urgent but not a life-threatening emergency was graded for a 30-minute response. The patient was under expert clinical care from when the paramedic arrived at 3.13pm until an ambulance to take to hospital arrived at 5pm. This kind of back-up delay is not the norm and it is not acceptable so we will be investigating this incident and are putting 160 extra crew hours a week in Norfolk as well as tackling hospital handover delays to free up crews more quickly for patients.”
She added: “Ambulance services are not just about response times but clinical quality of care and in this the trust is setting its own aspirational targets to ensure a good outcome for patients.
“Latest cardiac arrest survival rates show the trust to be the second best performing ambulance service in the country, we have instigated award winning falls projects to tackle a complex issue that is the single biggest cause of call-outs for the trust and we are in the top three of ambulance services in the country for clinical research.”
We want to hear from you about your experiences and views of the region’s ambulance service. You can either fill in the form in the paper, or online at www.edp24.co.uk, or email email@example.com
Norfolk Local Involvement Network (LINk) manages a dedicated group of volunteers who are currently working with EEAST, the service commissioners and Norfolk’s major hospitals to try and improve service performance, particularly relating to the issue of ambulance turnaround times.
David Russell, lead member of Norfolk LINk’s ambulance project group, said: “We are aware of concerns regarding ambulance waiting times, but we believe these issues can only be resolved by looking at the bigger picture. Work not only needs to be done by the ambulance service, but also the commissioners and our hospitals where ambulances can struggle to get back onto the roads due to inefficient turnaround procedures. We would like to see an agreement signed between the three parties stating how they aim to work together to alleviate the problems.”
The Ambulance Project Group regularly reports to Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) with its observations regarding ambulance turnaround times at Norfolk’s three acute hospitals.
Anyone with a concern regarding the ambulance service is welcome to contact Norfolk LINk with their comments by calling 0800 652 4158 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org