Ambulance staff crisis is putting lives at risk

26 Aug 99
London's ambulance controllers have warned that understaffing is putting patients' lives at risk.

27 August 1999

In a letter from staff at central ambulance control, the ambulance workers described how they have to 'scratch around' for ambulances to answer 999 calls.

'To say that patients' lives are at risk is an understatement,' they wrote in the letter, to London Ambulance Service chief executive Michael Honey.

They added: 'At times, sheer workload, coupled with poor manning, creates an air of anxiety that is almost tangible.

'Staff are being put under intense pressure and mental strain. What is it going to take before something is done? Are we waiting for another tragedy?'

The plea for more staff and resources comes in the wake of the death of an 11-year-old boy who, according to health service campaigners, might have been saved but for ambulance delays, after a neighbour dialling 999 only reached an answering machine. However, this suggestion was rejected both by Honey and the ambulance workers.

Eric Roberts, an ambulanceman who works for health service union Unison, said: 'When somebody rings 999 and needs us most and reaches an answerphone, it is unacceptable.'


Did you enjoy this article?