Suffolk: Ambulance chief admits delays too common as patient waits two hours for ambulance after bike crash
11:45 09 July 2014
A cyclist who required hospital treatment after falling from his bike had to wait two hours for an ambulance, it has emerged.
The incident has come to light on the same day that the new head of ambulance services in the East of England acknowledged patients were still waiting too long.
The cyclist was injured when he fell from his bicycle in Glemsford on Sunday. An ambulance was called to the scene at 1.49pm but didn’t arrive until 3.49pm.
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said an initial ambulance dispatched to the scene was diverted to somebody suffering from chest pain, adding that the weekend was the fourth busiest for the service this year.
“We would like to apologise for the unacceptable delay and assure the person involved that we are investigating the incident to help understand why it happened and prevent such delays from happening again,” the spokesman said.
“We would encourage the patient to contact us so that we can keep him updated with the investigation.”
Meanwhile Anthony Marsh, the new chief executive of the service, said patients were still waiting too long for ambulances, but the turnaround plan is on track.
During a meeting in Westminster six months into his tenure, Mr Marsh told MPs that staff had embraced his plans drawn up in January.
Dr Marsh, who is chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, said around 300 of 400 student paramedics pledged in his January turnaround plan had been recruited, with the first 100 already in training and some expected to be out on operations this month.
He also said that they needed the “best equipment and the best and newest ambulances”, adding that 147 new vehicles were already on the streets, with a further 120 on order and due to be in place by next March.
However, he acknowledged that waiting times were still too long, adding: “We cannot recruit those staff and train them any quicker than we already are.
“It is going to take time. When you inherit that sheer number of vacancies it takes two years to train and recruit them. That is the simple fact of the matter.”
He said his plans needed to be repeated next year, and it would take two years to restore an ambulance service that the East of England “could be proud of”.
Dr Marsh said that he thought MPs were really encouraged by his update, adding: “All the indications, everything I pledged in January, we are now delivering.
“Previously promises were made about improvements and the promises were not even delivered, let alone the outputs.”
But he added: “There is another 18 months hard work to fulfil.”
Therese Coffey MP for Suffolk Coastal, who hosted the meeting in Parliament, said: “We were last updated in February so it was useful to find out the progress being made. The Trust is now under the strong leadership of Dr Marsh who step by step is turning around performance.
“Dr Marsh recognises that the full turnaround of the service won’t happen for another 18 months as more paramedics are recruited and deployed but we can already see that progress is being made and staff morale has improved.
“My colleagues and I will continue to press the case for a better service and together we will make sure East of England patients get the service they deserve.”