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Ambulance waiting times. The perspective of an Ambulance Driver.


Neranjana Elapatha

July 17, 2022

The ambulance waiting times have been an ongoing issue in recent months. According to the British Heart Foundation, a category two ambulance reaction times to a suspected heart attack and stroke has risen to 70 minutes, four times the average target.

The media coverage has shown the side of the enraged reactions of patients, but not many have featured the perspective of the people behind the wheel saving people's lives.

Exclusive interview Southeast Coast Ambulance driver has given the perspective on what it is like to be in the constant pressure of time but ensuring every patient is properly cared for.

She claims that an ambulance will attend to the patient and rate the urgency of the situation according to what they say when calling 999. However, many patients in severe conditions downplay their symptoms resulting in lesser category ambulance.

"It is only as good as the information provided."

"People have a right to choose whether they want an ambulance or not". Another circumstance that happens often is a family calling on behalf of the patient and the patient refusing service from the ambulance when they arrive.

Since the covid-19 pandemic, the ambulance service has had a "25% increase in workload". She claims that the reasons are "everyone is putting a lot more load on the ambulance service because we are an easy target".

"If they cannot get an appointment from the GP, they call the ambulance. So we have become social services, mental health, marriage counsellors and just-in-case services. Not the emergency services."

Resulting visiting people who are not classed as emergency conditions, each visit is time-consuming, taking "1.5 hours" to attend to the patient.

She claims that there needs to be serious revaluation in the 111 services; the lack of medical training in the call centres of 111 results in flagging a non-emergency situation to an emergency category.

Additionally, she claims that the algorithm of the call centre is flawed as some information that the patient is saying to the call centre doesn't align with the restricted options the algorithm provides.

Resulting in an emergency category ambulance attending to a non-emergency patient.

Many ambulance workers who work hard to provide a service have been under significant pressure from the media.

Although serious revaluation is needed to keep up with the demand, many can't forget the honourable service they provide to save lives.


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