When one emergency service starts criticising another for serious failings, you know you’re in big trouble.
But that’s exactly what has happened in Hampshire.
Today we report how Hampshire Fire Brigade Union has called for drastic action to be taken to prevent problems at Queen Alexandra Hospital and with South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) from spiralling out of control.
The final straw seems to have been firefighters in Southsea having to use their appliance to take a man to hospital following a fire at his home.
He had waited two hours for an ambulance that never arrived.
As union secretary Gary Jackson puts it, ‘we shouldn’t be picking up the pieces of another failing organisation’.
He adds: ‘This is not our business – we are a fire and rescue service. We can’t afford to have one of our appliances wrapped up to deal with a medical.’
He’s quite right. As a result, their response to fire calls could well be delayed.
‘That could put people at unacceptable risk.
The wider problem is that the QA is struggling to cope with the sheer numbers who need its care. As medical staff are overwhelmed, so ambulances pile up outside, unable to discharge patients and out of commission to answer other calls.
This has meant a series of incidents where people have had to wait long periods for ambulances to arrive.
Clearly, we can’t go on like this. Something has to be done to ease the enormous pressure and we urge health secretary Jeremy Hunt to appreciate the gravity of the situation when he meets with Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt to discuss what action can be taken.
Because if nothing is done, the shocking truth is that people could end paying with their lives.