Only Fools and Horses’ Trigger hits out at ambulance service proposals

The actor Roger Lloyd Pack has described proposed changes to ambulance services in north Norfolk as 'potentially life-threatening and short-sighted' and joined a campaign opposing them.

His backing for the North Norfolk Labour Party's campaign comes after he claims he was told that he could have to wait up to four hours for an ambulance when he fell ill recently.

No 999 call was made but Mr Lloyd Pack said this was an estimate given to him by the out of hours doctor who visited him.

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) spokesman, however, said the GP had requested transport for a two, not four-hour time-frame and did not judge the situation to be serious enough for a quicker emergency response.

The 68-year-old who played Trigger in Only Fools and Horses and lives in the Fakenham area, said: 'I am shocked to hear of the threat to north Norfolk's ambulance service.

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'Recently I was struck down with a serious infection which necessitated my spending three days in the High Dependency Unit of the Intensive Care Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

'The out of hours doctor who came to visit me offered to call an ambulance to take me there but warned me that I could expect a wait of up to four hours.

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'So my wife drove me the 20 miles or so to the hospital. I dread to think what might have happened if I had to wait for the ambulance.

'And now this already meagre service is to be cut! It is a short-sighted and potentially life-threatening policy.'

Mr Lloyd Pack said he is now recovering well.

A spokesman for EEAST said: 'The out of hours GP called at 4.34pm to request for non-emergency transport to hospital, which the ambulance service provides separate to the 999 service, and asked for a two, not four, hour time-frame for transport to arrive with the patient by 6.33pm.

'This decision was based on the GP's thorough assessment of the patient. The doctor would have requested an emergency response or shorter time-frame if they felt the patient's condition had warranted it.'

Meanwhile the North Norfolk Labour Party say that more than 2,500 people has signed its petition against the proposed changes to ambulance services.

Yesterday EEAST confirmed its chief executive Hayden Newton has agreed to meet with the campaigners to discuss the public feeling and details are being arranged.

The EDP has reported how there are plans to change ambulance cover across the region.

In north Norfolk, they would see Fakenham's rapid response vehicle, a specially kitted-out car that enables a paramedic to reach patients but cannot take them to hospital, have its daily coverage reduced from 17 to 12 hours.

The town's traditional-type ambulance would remain a 24/7 service. But nearby stations, which can cover the area when the Fakenham-based service is busy, are also due to undergo changes.

One of Cromer's two full-time ambulances would only operate two days a week, both part-time, with a loss of 136 hours; but plans to turn the part-time rapid response vehicle into a full-time service would increase its coverage by 52 hours a week.

Dereham's ambulance would remain full time, but the town's rapid response vehicle would be cut from a 24-hour-a-day service to 18 hours.

The ambulance service argues that staffing rotas are badly in need of a redesign because the present set-up of where and when resources are based does not meet patient demand.

Mr Newton has said he is confident this will help on both back-up delays [where ambulances are delayed at hospitals] and improving even further rural performance.

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