No ambulances in county to go to crash

By Danielle NuttallAN MP called last night for an urgent investigation after three road crash victims were forced to wait 42 minutes for treatment - because an ambulance had to be sent from another county.

By Danielle Nuttall

AN MP called last night for an urgent investigation after three road crash victims were forced to wait 42 minutes for treatment - because an ambulance had to be sent from another county.

The delay meant firefighters had to administer first aid, oxygen therapy and neck collars to the casualties before paramedics arrived.

The accident happened at 8.30am in Landseer Road, Ipswich, and involved a minibus and a van.

An ambulance was called to take three men, suffering potential back and whiplash injuries, to hospital - but all 19 emergency East Anglian Ambulance Trust vehicles in Suffolk were already answering 999 calls.

The nearest ambulance available was about 25 miles away in Scole, Norfolk, and took 42 minutes to arrive at the scene.

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Richard Spring, the West Suffolk MP, called last night for an immediate investigation to be launched into the circumstances of the delay, warning “life could have been lost”.

Chris Mole, the Ipswich MP, added questions needed to be raised over whether Government targets for the ambulance trust were resulting in unnecessary attendances.

Mr Spring said: “If something like this can happen, they have to investigate what sort of back-up they have.

“For example, if there are two major accidents in different parts of the county and all the ambulances were busy, there has to be an emergency back-up procedure.

“It should not have to come from Norfolk. Norfolk is much further from Ipswich than Colchester. We need further reassurance of a cross-county emergency support service.

“Yes, of course there is a finite number of ambulances and to their credit they have improved response times, but we cannot have a situation like this. There has to be an urgent investigation into this. Life could have been lost.”

Mr Mole added: “I am generally supportive of the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. They have improved enormously against their attendance targets over the last few years, but recently questions have been raised whether some Department of Health targets are leading to unnecessary attendances.

“These may lead to ambulances being on a call of lower priority and I intend to raise this with ministers in the coming months.”

Matthew Ware, ambulance trust spokesman, said: “There are a finite amount of resources in the ambulance service which are significantly greater now than at any time in our history.

“Our funding has more than doubled over the last five years. There are more ambulances, more response vehicles available in Suffolk than there have has been before.

“However, there will always be a freakish set of circumstances involving more 99 calls than there are resources every now and then.”

He added: “Unless we have an ambulance on every street corner, you are not going to get to all of the people all of the time within eight or 19 minutes. It's simply impossible.

“We are not funded to, we cannot do it and we are currently exceeding our response targets.

“Obviously, we regret the delay in giving all these patients treatment. It was not a life-threatening incident, but that's no acceptable reason for a delay.”

Three fire engines from Ipswich were first on the scene at yesterday's crash and were originally only called to a diesel spill on the road.

Sub Officer Dave Collins, of Suffolk Fire Service, said: “The fire service had to give medical assistance when they first arrived as they said they couldn't provide an ambulance for approximately 40 minutes.

“We assisted and treated people with potential neck and back injuries. We administered first aid at the scene.

“Everyone was out of the vehicles when we arrived. We have got quite a lot of experience with road accidents. People really do not understand how complex they can be, but we are pleased with the job.”

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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