Police being used to transport patients to hospital
- 13 Jan
Police in Essex have revealed concerns after having to take patients to hospital due to ambulances failing to show up over 180 times in the past year.
Figures obtained by the BBC highlight that in 2013 police in Essex took 185 patients to hospital and the East of England Ambulance Service said that they needed more staff.
In March last year 22 patients were conveyed to hospital due to "execessive ambulance delays" or "no shows". There were 20 such occasions in July and 21 in October.
There were 83 episodes classed as "inappropriate ambulance requests" of the police force last year. Mark Smith, chairman of the Essex Police Federation says that inappropriate requests include the ambulance service calling the police with concerns about a violent person at the scene of an emergency. Occasionally once the police arrive they realise it is not the case and the police were not needed. "This has been going on for more than a year now and those who can change it, haven't. We are talking about people who really need to go to hospital, such as those involved in very serious road traffic accidents."
Mr Smith said that he was "concerened" about the situation as officers were not only unable to do their policing duties when taking people to hospital but were also ill-equipped to step in for paramedics. He did stress that he did not blame the front-line paramedics for the problem.
Tony Hughes, the GMB ambulance organiser for the eastern region, said: "We have heard about it and are obviously concerned, because the police aren't there to deal with those types of injuries and conditions. Our members don't tell us about it that often because it's embarrassing for them, having to rely on police officers. The police are there to do a totally different job. In the East of England Ambulance Service there just aren't enough staff to keep up with the demand that's there."
A spokesman for the ambulance service said: "We recognise we do not currently have sufficient ambulances to respond to all emergency calls as quickly as we need to. Be assured that our staff are already working as hard has as they can, but we simply need more of them in order to improve our response times. It continues to be the case that we do not record the number of times when we are 'stood down' from an incident by other 999 colleagues on scene, which is when we are dealing with the call but are told we are no longer required. Instead, when this has happened, it is noted within the incident record."
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