West Midlands Ambulance Service Performance Figures.
The latest performance figures for the English Ambulance Trusts were released two weeks ago. For WMAS it is impressive how, despite the extreme difficulty of maintaining an emergency service, response times for Category 1 calls such as cardiac and respiratory arrest have remained almost unchanged compared to their best in 2019.
However the results for the other categories must be very concerning. One in ten of patients who may be suffering a heart attack or stroke, for whom it is vital to get quickly to hospital for clotbuster treatment, were having to wait for the best part of an hour and a half. For people with conditions such as pneumonia, the average wait was over twice as long, with ten percent having to wait more than eight hours.
We should not be blaming the ambulance services for these frightening delays. The situation is linked both to increased demand and the great difficulty ambulances are currently experiencing in unloading patients when they arrive at the hospital.
A chain of circumstances is responsible for this situation. A&E departments are full, which in turn is down to their being unable to move patients onto wards. In their turn these wards are unable to discharge patients. This difficulty in discharge pre-dated the pandemic and is linked to the government's failure to address the long term crisis in Social Care.
This continuing crisis is partly the result of financial pressure, but is also tied to Brexit and the government-sponsored hostile environment within which overseas workers now find themselves, and which has resulted in the loss of so many key workers in the sector.