Lives put at risk by 'dangerous' rise in London ambulance waiting times
PUBLISHED: 11:35 26 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:18 30 January 2017
Government 'underfunding' is being blamed for a decline in performance
Patients’ lives are being put at risk by a dangerous rise in ambulance waiting times, a trade union has warned.
New figures show 30 per cent of the most seriously ill patients in London are being left in danger for longer than eight minutes.
The government’s aim is for 75 per cent of all life-threatened callers to be reached within eight minutes - a target that was met by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) in 2012.
But the latest figures from the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust show only 70 per cent of the most seriously ill patients were seen within the target time in 2016.
GMB, the union for NHS workers, claimed the decline in performance is “a symptom of chronic NHS underfunding by the Conservative government”.
Warren Kenny, regional secretary GMB London, said: “These disgraceful figures clearly show Tory tactics of underfunding and privatising the NHS are putting lives in danger.
“GMB members put their heart and soul into the life-saving work they do for our health service.
“But the Conservatives are cutting their feet out from under them – and the result is dying patients are left with a desperately long wait for emergency care.”
Graham Norton, LAS assistant director of operations, South East, commented: “Between April and December last year, we saw an 11 per cent increase in category A incidents, involving our most critically ill or injured patients, compared with the same period last year.
“This represents an extra 41,758 Category A incidents over this period, or 154 every day, which has placed increased pressure on our service.
“However we have continued to improve our response rates over this period, reaching 27630 more Category A incidents within 8 minutes – 102 a day – compared with the same timeframe last year.
“To help us to respond to our sickest patients quickest, we ask Londoners to call us only in a genuine emergency and to consider other options such as NHS 111 for non-urgent medical advice.”