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There is no ambulance service anymore

550 replies

Snog · 24/09/2022 08:00

Twice so far this year NHS111 have told me that my dd needs paramedics to attend for severe chest and abdominal pain and that they are on their way.

Both times the ambulance service called me later and said they would not be attending that night as too busy.

I am posting this because I want people to know that there is no functional ambulance service any more.

If you need an ambulance try to take your loved one to hospital yourself instead. This could save their life.

Obviously when you get to hospital good luck with that but at least you are not waiting for an ambulance that will never come.

OP posts:
ButyouwereuptoyouroldtricksinChaptersFourFiveandSix · 24/09/2022 08:56

But it’s always been the case that if you can make your own way there you should

HilarityEnsues · 24/09/2022 08:56

It is worth saying that it's not always a good idea to wait for the ambulance. My dad was told to wait for one recently by 111, after 5 hours, they drove to A and E and were seen within another few hours. It wasn't appropriate to tell them to wait at all. I've driven my husband in (with known but life-threatening health problems) several times, the only reason I would wait for the ambulance is if the person is immobile/too heavy or too ill to move, or likely to deteriorate. I have also been told to drive family members in by 111 as well, say for overdose. I am ready and able to drive though and my other child is old enough to be left, so for younger age groups/where there's a single parent/the patient is life-threateningly ill that second, that is not possible.

Flopisfatteningbingforchristmas · 24/09/2022 08:57

I’ve rang with a toddler who was having breathing difficulties. Told she needed be seen ASAP but they couldn’t say when a paramedic would be sent and asked if I could drive her to A and E. They were relieved when I said. They gave me a big list of things to look out for while driving and told me not to let her sleep. I had to stop driving twice on the way to wake her up. Scariest drive of my life.

countrygirl99 · 24/09/2022 08:58

In July FILs neighbours realised he was in trouble at 6am and called an ambulance. His carers arrived at 8.30, called again and told them he had severe breathing difficulties and were concerned he may have fractured his pelvis. The ambulance arrived just after 11 (he's 5 minutes from the hospital but it wasn't safe to move him and we were 2 hours away when we got a call from the carers). He then waited 2 hours in the queue of ambulances that apparently all had people in severe difficulties. He died a couple of days later. FIL was 84 and had stage 4 cancer and unstable diabetes.
So no, you won't always get an ambulance quickly if you need one.

Darkstar4855 · 24/09/2022 08:58

111 is way too overcautious and tells everyone they need an ambulance and they mustn’t make their own way to A&E. It doesn’t help the strain on the system when ambulances are sent to people with sprained ankles, drunk teenagers, kids whose parents could easily drive them the ten minutes to the hospital etc.

However if the social care system was sorted out and ambulances weren’t stuck queuing outside hospitals, it would make a massive difference to response times.

Flopisfatteningbingforchristmas · 24/09/2022 08:58

ButyouwereuptoyouroldtricksinChaptersFourFiveandSix · 24/09/2022 08:56

But it’s always been the case that if you can make your own way there you should

Not it’s not. Sometimes people need immediate medical attention which can be given by a high qualified and skilled paramedic with appropriate equipment and drugs.

feathers7 · 24/09/2022 08:59

Not scaremongering.
The system is no longer fit for purpose due to chronic underfunding, lack of staff and that crews are unable to transfer patients in to hospital, as they are so stretched and at capacity.
There were 14 ambulances queuing to off load patients in to A&E at my hospital the other evening, that means 14 ambulances and crews unable to attend other emergencies.
It's frightening.

Battlecat98 · 24/09/2022 08:59

The government are aware of this and it only applies to a very small percentage of ambulance services. The government won't release the information on which ones are affected but are apparently working with them. Not ALL areas are affected like this.
Of course the examples given have required an ambulance but, some people do need to get to hospital themselves.
If you can get yourself to A&E and it's safe you need to.
The NHS is a mess I work in it so have first hand knowledge. It is a very scary situation.

eatmyhat33 · 24/09/2022 08:59

Boils down to experience doesn't it. People who have phoned an ambulance and got one quickly may well defend the service and say the op is being unreasonable. But if you'd been one of the unfortunate ones who have had to wait several hours for something serious your perspective would be different.

And why would op take her daughter herself when she's been told an ambulance is on the way? It's really really scary. On a side note I couldn't get through to my GP at all last week. Every time I rang it was engaged, no matter what time of the day. It's a really shit time to be poorly.

Snog · 24/09/2022 08:59

I am really sorry for all those who have had poor experiences with ambulances for their loved ones.

Healthcare is in crisis and seems to be getting worse not better.

Maybe you think I am scaremongering, maybe you will change your mind when it happens to you.

OP posts:
C152 · 24/09/2022 08:59

That's been true for quite some time. I called over 8 years ago because my then partner was having a heart attack in the middle of the night. I don't drive and couldn't get him to hospital without an ambulence. After 3 hours an ambulence officer came in his personal car because there were no ambulences available. (We live a 10min drive from a massive hospital.) He rang 999 several times to insist how urgent it was an ambulence came. After another hour without one he said it was our choice, but he was willing to drive us in his own car, which he did. (After heart surgery, the outcome was good, but it's thanks to that one ambo who did the 'wrong' thing by taking us in his car rather than continuing to wait.)

BananaSpanner · 24/09/2022 09:00

EgonSpengler2020 · 24/09/2022 08:49

OP is absolutely correct, the ambulance service has collapsed, whilst some will still get an ambulance in a timely fashion through sheer luck, most won't. So having a pre-made plan for transport to hospital, particularly if you don't have a car it essential. Remember that small kids are highly portable, so for the vast majority of the population it will always be quicker to throw them in the car and take them to hospital yourself.

This is how things are where I work.

Arrive at work, immediately text/phone colleagues on previous shift to see what the "hospital situation" is. Confirm that it's shit, once again, and that patients have been waiting for 6, 9 12, 30!! hours to offload. Get sent by control to the hospital to relieve a crew. Control have to work out who to priortise taking in to account finish time, breaks not taken (frequently there is no canteen at night due to staff shortages in catering, on sunday nights this means no access to anything as even the local supermarket/convienience stores are shut overnight), and distance to travel back to base in order to finish shifts (This can be 70 miles or close to 2 hours driving for some crews). Bare in mind this is all after the finish time on a 12 hour shift.

Then the crews that take over will sit with a patient that has been handed over to them and attempt to provide basic nursing care in a substandard environment. Depending how long the patient has already been outside, this could be it for the shift, or we could handover at some point, clear, get a break, another job and then back of the queue for the rest of the shift.

Some of the patients currently not getting in to a&e for 12+ hours are NEWscoring over 10. I've waited outside for a moderate period of time, and had the patient seen on the vehicle by a junior doc when they had a temp of 27C. FFS! Patients are developing pressures due to the ambulance stretcher being designed for a couple of hour long transfer at most.

Then at the end of the shifts the relieving crews will come in in dribs and drabs. Working times directives state that you must have an 11 hour rest between shifts, so many of the staff returning from working the shift before will be arriving late due to finishing so ridicolously late on their previous shift. Most stations work a 2days/2 nights/4 off system or similar so that you are staggered and not working with the same person all the time, this means that their partner for the shift will be coming in fresh, or switching from days on to night, therefore they will arrive on time. They will work solo if they are qualified/experienced enough to do so (or sit drinking tea if not), and may be sent to hospital to relieve a crew on their own if the patient is suitable. Their colleague will then turn in x hour later, but there may be no spare ambulance on station, so they are then stuck, unable to pair up with their crew mate who is either stuck at hospital or at scene waiting for backup, and unable to respond to any emergencies however high priority.

And so the cluster fuck continues, shift after shift, week after week, month after month, year after year (my first 6 hour + delay outside a&e was at least 9 years ago).

We get skills decay from barely seeing any patients and not using our skills, new starters don't even get to develop there skills outside of the classroom, but they qualify non-the-less. This is dangerous for patients causes an undercurrent of stress and insomnia for staff who fear for their registration, their job and even prison (a doctor was imprisoned for screwing up in the UK despite being forced to work outside her contracted/ EU WTD conditions).

So staff who can leave, in ever increasing numbers.

So OP definelty isn't scaremongering, in fact she doesn't know the half of it.

Yes. This is my experience as described earlier with my mum. People have the impression that ambulances are razzing about going from job to job, patient to patient. That may be the case sometimes but I have seen first hand queues of ambulances and paramedics just sat outside of hospitals with one patient waiting to drop the off. Just sat there waiting for hours.

I asked one of the paramedics about it and he said that they used to be able to double up 2 patients outside a hospital in order to release an ambo and crew but Covid stopped that and it’s never restarted.

Walkaround · 24/09/2022 09:00

The problems with the ambulance service and the fact that people are dying as a result have been widely advertised for months. I’m not sure what rock those questioning this have been hiding under?

Coastalcreeksider · 24/09/2022 09:00

When my dad was still living at home, the times an ambulance was called, the quickest was ten minutes as they were on a rest up off road near by and the longest was about 40 minutes. The duty doctor that we called out took longer, some six hours later at 10pm but he looked exhausted and still had other calls to go to and was going to be back in his surgery the next morning.

Now in a care home, ambulance called over a week ago took four hours and dad was outside the hospital for several hours and then in A&E until the following morning when moved into a ward where he stayed for five days.

TheFeistyFeminist · 24/09/2022 09:00

Two elderly ladies I know, both recently fell and were injured. One waited five hours for am ambulance, the other less than an hour. It's a lottery.

Luxurysleuth007 · 24/09/2022 09:01

I have friends in Shrewsbury whose 80 yr old parent with suspected stroke had to wait 6 hours for an ambulance and then 12 hours in A&E before they were seen properly. The NHS is screwed unfortunately.

peridito · 24/09/2022 09:01

I had a big argument with my son about the waiting times for ambulances .He had come home after a 3 day first aid course and was quoting the leader as saying there was a 10 min wait time for cat 1 (well direct quote would be cat A )
cases .
He would not believe me saying "in your dreams "and we both turned to google .
But this Nuffield report came up with this graphic .
And I wasn't able to find links to reports to support my argument .Though they must exist .

There is no ambulance service anymore
MeanOldPotato · 24/09/2022 09:01

Allelbowsandtoes · 24/09/2022 08:03

Tell that to the paramedics who are rushing from one urgent job to the next for 12 hours at a time.

Or sitting outside A&E for hours as there is no room for thier patients.

Ponoka7 · 24/09/2022 09:01

The information is useful to have. My son-in-law was driving my DD home, from the hospital that she works in. Five minutes after leaving they see a man fall in the road, he was bleeding from his head and had a possible fractured elbow/shoulder injury. They stop and want to take him. My DD knew the current situation with ambulances and A&E etc, because she'd just come off shift. Someone phoned an ambulance but was told there'd be hours to wait, unless he lost consciousness. My son-in-law and DD had to have an argument with the other people who'd stopped because they were saying to wait for the ambulance. It was bitter and raining. They just couldn't accept that he would be waiting for hours, when the hospital was five minutes away. They took him in the end.

TheresABearOverThere · 24/09/2022 09:01

There really isn't. I had to call an ambulance for myself for heart attack symptoms. They said I was high priority but then like you called me back to say they weren't going to be coming. Thankfully in my case it was dangerously low potassium not a heart attack but I'd have been dead.

BananaSpanner · 24/09/2022 09:01

I honestly don’t know how it doesn’t get more attention because it is an absolute scandal.

gogohmm · 24/09/2022 09:02


Yes sometimes they are much slower but then sometimes there's been an accident on the motorway for instance - I live near 2 major ones plus a minor one, most days there's at least 1 or 2 crashes which require ambulances reported on the local website, sometimes they require lots of ambulances, then there's the frequent need to send one for hours whilst someone sits on a bridge over the said motorways, it's heartbreakingly frequent. Add in lots of elderly people and yes it's very busy here. A friend is a paramedic, he loves it but it's not easy and even he moans that people overplay their symptoms to get an ambulance rather than calling a taxi/getting someone to drive them

Devilishpyjamas · 24/09/2022 09:02

111 has been ridiculous about ambulances for years (I remember having to persuade them in 2003 that I could drive my son to A&E) - but the system was not close to collapse. When I was arguing with them back in 2003 elderly people were not waiting 12 hours with broken backs, they were not queuing for 15 hours outside A&E - even in the summer - and social care companies were not handing back contracts because they could not cover them.

Explaintome · 24/09/2022 09:02

I recently rang 111 for a colleague who'd collapsed/fainted at work. A middle aged man who came round quickly but was drifiting in and out of consciousness. To me, high probability that it's heart related and needs urgent attention.

I'm sure if I'd posted on here I'd have been told ambulance/ A&E

Anyway 111 did their questions and decided he didn't need hospital immediately, but they'd get a clinician to call. We waited more than an hour for that call and we very nearly took him to hospital ourselves in that time. It was only because he was insisting he didn't want to go (and he's a grown up to gets to make those choices) that we didn't.

When the call did come, they booked him a GP appointment for the following day. So they don't always say ambulance.

Namechangefail123 · 24/09/2022 09:03

But this is nothing new... I was on the side of the road after an accident, with various suspected fractures and internal bleeding and I had to wait 2+ hours. That's was 5 years ago!

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