East Anglian MPs quiz ambulance bosses over winter crisis

Ambulance staff have been called to treat a woman after a crash in Combs Lane. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Ambulance staff have been called to treat a woman after a crash in Combs Lane. Picture: SIMON PARKER

MPs from across the region have met with ambulance bosses amid ongoing concerns over the crisis that hit the service during the festive period.

East Anglian MPs quizzed East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) chiefs in Westminster about crippling delays during patient hand overs in recent months.

Whistleblowers have claimed patients were harmed or even died because of the delays.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said: “We had a good chance to quiz the directors of the ambulance service on specific issues over the winter performance. There were some particularly concerning incidents over the winter period and as a result, a series of 60-day reviews are under way looking into each individual incident.

“It is absolutely imperative that those reviews are completed as quickly as possible so we can get answers and learnings from them.

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“There are still major issues with hospital hand over delays which need to be significantly improved. This is why I specifically invited NHS Improvement to the meeting so they could hear first hand the issues that the ambulance service is facing in trying to get crews back out on the road – and it was extremely important to escalate this to that level.

“MPs agreed to ask the NHS director responsible for the East of England, Paul Watson, and health minister Steve Barclay to meet us very quickly.

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“Fundamentally though, despite some improvement being made, we need more improvement more quickly and the very top level of the NHS involved in making that happen.”

Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin added: “I understand that there are rules about how and when you can hand over a patient to A&E, but how can it make sense to sit with a patient who could be safe and warm in an A&E reception area when there is someone in desperate need of help lying in the freezing cold for up to 3 hours? What can we do to change the arrangements for hand over which are keeping so many of our ambulances waiting?”

An EEAST spokesman said: “We hold regular meetings with MPs and also send them regular updates. This meeting provided a number of MPs from the East of England region with more context to some of their questions around winter pressures, the risk summit and future plans.”

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