Ambulances under 'significant pressure' amid 'big surge' in 999 calls but most seriously ill still being attended to in good time

AMBULANCES are under ‘significant pressure’ amid a ‘big surge’ in 999 calls.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 1:14 pm

South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) reported a 10 per cent uplift in calls in recent weeks compared to the same period last year and in 2019.

But despite the increasing number of calls - which are not Covid-related - the ambulance service is still getting to the most seriously ill in good time.

Tracy Redman, head of Scas operations in the south east, told Portsmouth City Council’s health overview and scrutiny panel: ‘(Scas) are under significant pressure. There is quite a big surge in demand we are facing.

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Tracy Redman for South Central Ambulance Service Picture: Malcolm Wells

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‘On the whole we are still getting to the most poorly patients in timely fashion, which is good. There is always room for improvement, though.’

But she added: ‘We find ourselves with more of a challenge to get to lower category patients, who are having to wait longer.’

Ms Redman said Scas was looking at its calls and triage system to reduce the number of delays for those in lower categories.

She went on to say that Scas is learning from other challenges the pandemic has thrown up. ‘Another big challenge was patients not being allowed relatives in ambulances which was very distressing,’ she said.

Ms Redman said there was a ‘lot of learning’ for Scas to absorb amid possible changes.

All front-line staff and support workers who wanted their Covid jabs had been vaccinated. ‘Our most important asset is our staff and there has been a focus on keeping them safe,’ she said.

‘We have vaccinated all our front-line staff and our support staff, who also play an important role.’

A sad aspect of the pandemic had been turning away gifts from members of the public. Ms Redman said: ‘There have been huge acts of kindness but due to Covid we have had to turn gifts away.’

Work was also being done to ensure ‘patients get what they need’ with remote assessments of conditions while Ms Redman said the service had battled with ‘capacity challenges’ that had been ‘exacerbated by queuing at hospital and offloading patients’.

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