Ambulance service accused of '˜failing' after Portsmouth firefighters forced to take man to hospital

FIREFIGHTERS from Southsea were forced to take a person to hospital last night '“ because there weren't enough ambulances to cover the city.

Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 11:33 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 11:41 am
Ambulance service is criticised after fire crews are forced to take injured man to hospital in a fire engine

The incident came after a man needed oxygen therapy when a fire erupted in the kitchen of his 15th floor flat, in Edgbaston House, in Sedgley Close, Somers Town at 6.10pm.

Crews called for an ambulance to take the man to Queen Alexandra Hospital for a precautionary check-up.

However, after waiting more than an hour for paramedics, the firefighters were told no ambulance would be sent and that they would have to transport the 45-year-old to hospital themselves.

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The move has this morning been condemned by the Hampshire Fire Brigade Union.

In a statement criticising the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) a union spokesman said: ‘Given the delays currently to ambulances at QA, this is another sign that not only is your NHS failing, your ambulance service is failing and if this continues, how long before a fire appliance is tied up attending medical emergencies and unable to attend “fire and rescue” incidents?

‘Just what does the Hampshire Fire and Rescue precept in your council tax go towards?

‘The people of Hampshire you need to be aware that this is the real cost of austerity cuts!’

Scas has not yet provided a comment on the incident.

However, a spokeswoman confirmed it was looking into it.

The news comes after a number of concerns were raised recently about the ambulance service and lengthy waiting times at QA.

Scas has previously said its crews have been stretched to deal with a high level of emergency calls.

It comes as Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt is due to hold talks with health minister Jeremy Hunt tomorrow in a bid to address the concerns.

Responding at the time, a Scas spokesman said: ‘At the time we were notified of the incident, we were experiencing a high level of demand for emergency responses in the area as well as having a significant amount of vehicles unavailable to us as they were needed at local emergency departments.

‘We would like to apologise to the patient and their family for the delay in responding to this incident and regret that on this occasion the timely service that we aim to achieve was not of the standard we strive to deliver.’

An ambulance service official added Scas is working with all its health system partners to minimise delays that impact its ability to respond to emergency calls.