South Central Ambulance Service facing 'high pressure' with steep rise in life-threatening emergencies

A STEEP rise in life-threatening emergencies is placing 'high pressure' on the area’s ambulance service, amid dire warnings about collapsing paramedic networks across the country.

By Richard Lemmer
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 2:03 pm

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), which covers the Portsmouth area, saw a 54 per cent increase in the most serious categorary of emergency calls between 2019 and 2021, according to new figures released by the service.

Overall demand for an ambulance is up 12 per cent from 2019.

In April, the ambulance service declared a ‘critical incident' across Hampshire due to 'extreme pressures' as vehicles face long hospital queues in Portsmouth and elsewhere.

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South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) declared a 'critical incident' in April. A file photo of an ambulance in Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (210319-3418).

An increasing elderly population, an increasing percentage of people with complex or multiple health conditions, and the impact of Covid has led to heavy pressure on the service, according to a spokesman from SCAS.

He said: ‘Our demand, like that of all ambulance services, has increased and pressure on ambulance services reflects pressure across the whole health and social care system.

‘This comes at a time of increasing demand elsewhere on health services, particularly hospitals, which has seen significant increases in handover delays for all ambulance services which then impacts our ability to respond and meet our response time targets.’

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It comes amid ongoing concerns about the state of the country’s paramedic services, with West Midlands Ambulance Service on ‘the brink of collapse’, according to its nursing director earlier this week.

Meanwhile the GMB union has revealed that ambulance calls have increased by 77 per cent – to 14 million calls – over the last decade, but the number of ambulance workers has risen by just seven per cent..

The spokesman from SCAS added: ‘Of the approximate 650,000 patients we dealt with via our 999 service last year, 46.3 per cent of them were treated over the phone or face-to-face.

‘Only 49.4 per cent were taken to an emergency department, which is better than the English ambulance service average of 52 per cent.

‘Without the skills and experience of our clinicians on the road and in our control rooms, the situation would be significantly worse, especially for our hospital partners.

‘Our highly trained clinicians are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and have a greater ability to treat people at home than ever before.’