Occupied vehicles to be sent to new calls

As part of an attempt to improve response times, the East of England Ambulance Services Trust is planning to send ambulances already occupied by patients to new emergencies.

The controversial plan, which critics have claimed could leave patients stuck ‘for hours on end’, was adopted by the trust last month as part of efforts to improve response times to category one calls, which relate to life-threatening injuries or illnesses.

Ranked the worst of all 10 ambulance trusts in England for category one response times in August, the Guardian reports a senior true paramedic as having severe concerns over the plans, which include dispatching patient transport services vehicles to life-threatening incidents and asking the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to respond to emergency calls. The paramedic is quoted as saying that the decision is ‘not safe for patients and it’s not safe for staff’.

The trust, which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, is in the midst of a number of controversies, with former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb slamming policy decision making at the trust and the regulation of NHS Improvement, while Robert Morton, the trust’s chief executive, announced his resignation last month following criticism over staff shortages, long emergency response times and patients coming to severe physical harm because of ambulance delays.

It was also reported in August that the trust was considering taking the step of drafting in the military and using volunteer ambulance drivers due to severe staff shortages.

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