Lib Dem MPs demand action on ambulance waiting times

Helen Morgan, the new MP for North Shropshire, started her first working day since the by-election win by demanding action on local ambulance waiting times. Helen Morgan, along with Lib Dem health spokesperson Daisy Cooper yesterday called for an urgent review into the ambulance crisis which leaves thousands in Shropshire waiting too long for emergency treatment.

The letter to the Health Secretary calls for a Care Quality Commission (CQC) review into ambulance services in England, with all ambulance services across the country now at REAP level 4 – the highest level meaning that ambulance services are under “Extreme Pressure”. With Covid rates rising, there is now a fear the ambulance crisis in Shropshire will worsen. The region already has one of the worst performing ambulance services, with new figures released over the weekend revealing 52% of patients at Royal Shrewsbury are left waiting more than 30 minutes in an ambulance before being handed over to A&E. The backlog in A&E, and shortages of ambulances, leaves those in need of emergency care left waiting dangerously long amounts of times before receiving care.

The incoming Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire Helen Morgan has demanded action:

There is no time to waste in solving the crippling ambulance crisis which puts lives in danger.

With a worrying new wave of Covid infections set to put new strains on our underfunded and overstretched NHS, I am concerned ambulance waiting times in Shropshire could become worse in the weeks ahead.

It was clear from my thousands of conversations on the doorstep that the ambulance crisis is the biggest concern to local people, and I will take up the mantle of demanding we get more funding to solve it.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

The pressures on ambulance services have been ignored by the Government for too long. We need this urgent review to identify the system-wide challenges facing ambulance services, and crucially, how we solve them. The Government must end the devastating reality that for far too many people, an ambulance just won’t arrive in time to provide them with life-saving treatment. The Liberal Democrats have already set out a five point plan on how the Government could cut ambulance waiting times, including emergency funding for areas such as Shropshire.

Helen cares passionately about her local community and has hit the ground running by demanding this action within hours of being elected.

Letter 20th December 2021 to Sajid Javid

Dear Secretary of State

We are writing to call on you to commission a review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into ambulance services in England. Ambulance services are desperately struggling to keep up with record demand. Waiting times for ambulances have increased dramatically and hospital handover delays are causing harm to patients. Only last week, NHS data showed that almost a quarter of the 84,000 patients brought to A&E waited for more than half an hour. Long waits at hospitals tie up ambulances that are needed elsewhere and have a severe knock on effect on people’s health, especially in emergency cases. Patients should not have to wait in an ambulance for treatment or for a bed to be found.

This year the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives found that 160,000 people a year are coming to harm, of whom 12,000 have experienced “severe harm”, because of the issues impacting ambulances. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine too, believes the system overall is under “intolerable pressure”. You’ll also be aware that all of England’s ambulance services have declared that they are in REAP level 4. This is the highest level, meaning that ambulance services are under “Extreme Pressure” and are worried about their ability to maintain a safe and timely service.

Covid has of course increased the pressure on our health and care services and ambulance staff are working flat out to keep us safe and healthy. But the government’s efforts to reduce the backlog of people waiting for treatments and support primary care, such as GPs, has exacerbated this already dire situation. The public need assurance that when they ring 999, they get the emergency health response they need. That is why a full review of ambulance services is needed in England now. People need to know what the issues are and what can be done to fix them.

The Liberal Democrats have suggested a five point plan to support ambulance services including emergency funding to reverse closures of community ambulance stations, as well as the full and proper CQC investigation we are calling for here. The CQC have made it clear that they have very serious concerns about the risk to patient safety as a result of delays. They have publicly stated that urgent action is needed and highlighted in this year’s State of Care report a stark warning that overstretched ambulance services are putting patients at risk.

The CQC does not, however, have the power to launch a review or investigation, it can only regulate and assess providers of health and care services. It needs explicit direction from you as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, under powers laid out in Section 48 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 to carry out any review. We hope that you will launch an investigation as soon as feasibly possible. We look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Morgan Incoming Member of Parliament for North Shropshire
Daisy Cooper MP Member of Parliament for St Albans Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care Spokesperson.

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  • Chris Moore 21st Dec '21 - 9:18am

    This is precisely the sort of initiative we need.

  • John Marriott 21st Dec '21 - 9:40am

    We have the same complaints in Lincolnshire over ambulance waiting times. Like Shropshire, except for a few relatively small towns, Lincolnshire is sparsely populated with a road network that has largely not changed much since the days of the horse and cart. This needs to be factored in before making a definitive conclusion about why ambulances struggle to get to their destination on time.

  • Andy Boddington 21st Dec '21 - 11:00am

    @John Marriott The complaints we are pursuing are specifically about waiting time for transfer at A&E. We will be picking up the issue of the times it takes for ambulances to get to patients early in the New Year.

  • Neil James Sandison 21st Dec '21 - 11:02pm

    This problem does affect all England and pre-dates the pandemic .The West Midlands Ambulance Service has become increasingly unreliable that councils like Rugby are backing local defibrilator campaigns to buy victims of stroke extra time whilst waiting for ambulance service to arrive , Our one and only local ambulance is being withdrawn from the district hospital despite our proximity to the busiest motorway links in the country dealing with serious RTAs on an almost daily basis .How the Ambulance Service and acute hospitals co-ordinate services and avoid problems of stacking and tying up ambulance does requires urgent review a model motion to put pressure on Savid Javid and blue wall Conservative MPS would be a useful tool .

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