Police forced to take patients to hospital due to shortages in more than 1,000 incidents of 999 ambulance calls.
On the day dubbed ‘Mad Friday’, an investigation by GMB, the union for ambulance staff, reveals at least 900,000 emergency calls for ambulances were not attended by a paramedic in England last year.
And in more than 1,000 confirmed cases trusts were forced to ask the police to take injured patients to hospital due to ambulance shortages. The real figure is likely to be as high as 5,000.
‘Mad Friday’ – the last Friday before Christmas – is one of the busiest days of the year for ambulance staff as many people celebrate finishing work for the festive period.
GMB submitted a freedom of information (FoI) request to all 10 ambulance trusts in England asking: 'How many 999 calls to your trust were attended only by emergency care assistants, or other non-fully qualified paramedics rather than with a fully-qualified paramedic in the financial year 2016/17?'
The nine responding trusts disclosed that there were a total of 882,465 incidents last year.
However, the true figure is likely to be significantly higher as East of England Ambulance Services refused to respond, claiming it would take them too long to find the information.
South East Coast Ambulance Service had the highest number of non-paramedic responses with 190,813 incidents.
North East ambulance service’s response revealed 155,902 incidents, of which 650 were in response to the most life-threatening ‘Red One’ calls.
The trust also revealed 887 incidents where the police took patients to hospital due to a shortage of ambulance staff.
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:
“It will send shockwaves through the country that hundreds of thousands of patients, some of them involved in life-threatening incidents, are not being attended by a trained paramedic.
“Proper support for our overstretched ambulance services is literally a matter of life and death. “GMB members are performing miracles every day but the system is failing because funding just hasn’t kept pace with demand.
“Paramedics and other ambulance staff regularly work 12-hour shifts or longer. They have no more to give.
“This must be a wake-up call for Jeremy Hunt.
"It is vital that our ambulance services are given the additional resources they desperately need.”
Kevin Brandstatter, GMB National Officer for Ambulance Staff, said:
“How many people will die this Christmas because the Chancellor refuses to properly fund our ambulance services?
“Is anyone in this Government prepared to apologise to the patients given inadequate care by over stretched and under-trained staff?
“Is anyone in this Government prepared to apologise to the families of those who die because of staff shortages? I bet not."
Contact: GMB press office on 07358 156846 or firstname.lastname@example.org