Time to end this winter of ambulance discontent

Should you stumble across a man collapsed on a pavement, bleeding heavily from his head, what would you do?

Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 6:00 am

Everyone’s natural instinct would be to reach for their phone and summon an ambulance.

That’s because we have a 999 service which is supposed to work.

No longer, it appears.

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In the case of the kind-hearted people who waited in a cold Portsmouth street with injured Edward Keane on Monday for four hours, they might have done better to scoop him up and drive him to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, themselves.

But they were not paramedics and could have done more harm than good.

So they waited. And waited. And all the while Mr Keane was left in a state of semi-consciousness with blood oozing from his forehead.

And, surprise, surprise, when first responders did turn up they said they had seen between 12 and 16 ambulances queueing to unload patients at QA.

This came just seven days after 16 ambulances from South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) were left waiting to transfer patients to A&E.

Scas warned then it would take longer responding to 999 calls.

Today we report the shocking statistics that during the day there is just one ambulance available per 23,000 people and one for every 35,000 of us at night.

Whether this startling revelation is because of the QA queues or just the normal sorry state of affairs is not clear.

But whatever the case, this cannot and must not continue.

Yes, it’s winter. Hospital admissions soar in these months. Everyone knows that. Yet, year after year we report stories of this nature.

QA is supposedly a ‘super hospital’. Let’s see some super winter management.

More emergency beds, more staff, no ambulances waiting to offload patients.

Perhaps we need another hospital with A&E facilities or one into which longer-term patients can be moved to free space at Cosham’s casualty.

Oh yes, we had one. It was called Haslar. And they closed it.