A paramedic has described the heartache of hearing 999 calls and feeling helpless while waiting in hospital car parks.

The paramedic, who did not wish to be named, said: "I know my colleagues are really frustrated having to sit with patients for hours on end, when they could and should be responding to other patients.

"Our control room will frequently put out 'group call' messages where they are desperately trying to find a crew to respond to a serious 999 call.

"The crews hear these, but are unable to respond.

"They also have to watch their patients deteriorate in the back of ambulance and, in some documented cases, die."

They added: "All the time they are waiting, more and more 999 calls keep coming in and it becomes a vicious cycle.

"All of these delays mean that staff get their unpaid meal breaks very late or often, not at all.

"They can end up being on duty for 14 hours or more, which is totally exhausting."

The GMB union is currently balloting its members over strike action, which includes staff from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.