Comment on SW Ambulance Trust pressures over the Christmas period

Posted on: 29th December 2014

MP for the W Cornwall & Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives, and Liberal Democrat member of the Commons Health Select Committee, Andrew George said:

“I have already asked Health Ministers to make sure that the Ambulance Trust is receiving all of the help it deserves in dealing with the unprecedented demand during the last 4 days, while ‘in hours’ GP surgeries and other non-urgent medical services have been unavailable.

“Unlike so many other areas of the country (like the London area or the Midlands) our emergency services can’t call upon ‘neighbouring’ services to help out. My own area is more than 200 miles from the nearest neighbour. So it leaves my constituents especially vulnerable.

“Once this immediate crisis is over I will be urging Health Chiefs and Ministers to reflect on the trends which are contributing to these pressures.

“Poor integration of and inadequately of capacity in out of hours services (OOHs GP services, NHS 111, mental health, minor injury units, social services); the closure of almost 50% of acute beds during the past decade leading to intolerable pressures at A&E; a culture which now points to emergency services as a ‘first’ rather than as a ‘last’ resort; and the weakening of the capacity of Ambulance services as the easy and more profitable parts of its service have been parcelled up for privatisation, have all contributed to the problems and pressures on the service. These must be looked at when we have the luxury of more reflective time, as we know that otherwise this problem will reoccur not only at every future Christmas and Easter but at other times.

“I also have some sympathy for the views of the College of Emergency Medicine about those who expect our already overstretched emergency services to mop up the self-inflicted problems of over-indulgence in alcohol. Perhaps they’re right and we should consider how to make sure that people take more responsibility for their behaviour?”