12 hours on the front line: Helen joins paramedics on their shift

11 Oct 2022
Helen starts a 12-hour ambulance shift with local paramedics

MP Helen Morgan spent 12 hours on the front line with paramedics in Shropshire to witness the impact of ambulance delays first hand.

The Lib Dem MP praised the “top-level professionalism” of crews being undermined by a “failing health system and a failing government” after attending a variety of incidents across North Shropshire, Shrewsbury and Telford.

One of the patients Helen observed being treated was a disabled man who had been waiting 12 hours for help despite being a category 3 patient with a target response time of one hour. Three other patients were designated as category two and were each forced to wait two or three hours despite a target response time of 18 minutes.

Helen Morgan, MP for North Shropshire, said: “I am in awe at the dedication and top-level professionalism of all the paramedics I met during the shift. They were all calm, kind and technically excellent at their jobs despite being forced to arrive at patients hours later than they would like.

“My shift took place on what was a comparatively good day in Shropshire and yet there were still eight ambulances queuing outside Telford hospital. Several more were queuing in Shrewsbury when we arrived there.

“None of this is the fault of the ambulance crews or the hospital staff. It is the fault of a failing system caused by a failing government.

“All of the NHS workers I spoke to made it clear that the solution starts with social care.

“Until patients are able to be discharged quickly, beds will continue to be blocked and ambulances will continue to queue. Meanwhile patients will be forced to suffer in pain or risk taking themselves to hospital.”

While Helen was in A&E one young crash victim arrived in a car with a broken leg after deciding that an ambulance would take too long.

Meanwhile the paramedics Helen was with skipped the only break of their 12-hour shift to respond to a category one call involving teenagers who had taken a cocktail of prescription and recreational drugs. They were the closest available crew to the incident despite being 20 minutes away.

One other incident involved a teenager who had dislocated his knee and had become so cold waiting in the wind and rain that the medics were unable to find a vein to administer morphine to relieve the pain.

Helen added: “Ambulance delays have been awful for more than a year now and despite repeated warnings from across the health service the Conservatives are still not taking it seriously.

“It’s not fair on patients and it’s not fair on hardworking paramedics, doctors and nurses who bear the brunt of the Government’s failures.”

West Midlands Ambulance Service has been on the highest alert level for several months with patients routinely waiting hours for ambulances to arrive. The service is losing thousands of ambulance hours each month due to long waits to handover patients to Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals.

You can read Helen's first-hand account of her 12-hour shift here.

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