The NHS is collapsing in front of our eyes whilst the Prime Minister and Health Secretary are nowhere to be seen.
In recent days ambulance services across the country have declared “critical incidents”, whilst ambulance staff have been urged to conserve oxygen supplies due to a surge in demand.
Patients are dying in hospital corridors, in queuing ambulances outside A&E departments and at home because help did not arrive in time.
An undignified and unnecessary loss of life.
This is a national crisis. Nobody should lose a loved one because the Government was asleep on the job.
NHS paramedics, nurses and doctors are this country’s heroes but they have been left high and dry. They need help right now before more people die.
This week, we have been calling for Parliament to return without delay so that we can work together to fix this urgent, life and death problem. The Prime Minister must declare a major incident now to put the NHS back on a pandemic-style footing amid soaring numbers of deaths.
The Liberal Democrats’ 5-point Winter Plan for Ambulances will help fix the problems facing emergency services and save lives both now and in the future.
- Fix Social Care. Bring forward a fully funded programme to get people who are medically well enough discharged from hospital and set up with appropriate social care and support. This will allow people to leave hospital sooner and make more space available for new arrivals.
The Government’s current attempt at this through the Adult Social Care Discharge Fund is not good enough, as the funds will come from existing NHS budgets putting even more pressure on other services. It will also not be deployed in full until the end of January.
- More hospital beds. In addition to getting people out of hospital so that they get care in a more comfortable setting, the number of beds in hospitals needs to be increased to end excessive handover delays for ambulances, caused by a lack of bed capacity. Any new beds must come with increases in staff to care for those extra patients.
- Community mental health support. Expand mental health support services to get people the appropriate care they need and reduce the number of call-outs for ambulances for mental health reasons. Learning from hospitals that have set up ‘emergency mental health departments’, will not only get people more appropriate care but relieve pressure on A&Es and ambulances.
- Paramedic recruitment drive. Launch a campaign to retain, recruit and train paramedics and other ambulance service staff. Like all health and care services, it needs to be properly staffed.
- Ambulance delay transparency. Pass my Ambulance Waiting Times Bill into law which would require accessible, localised reports of ambulance response times to be published. This would ensure that ‘hot spots’ with some of the longest waiting times can be identified routinely. 12-hour waits at A&E should also be published from arrival at hospital rather than the ‘decision to admit’ as is current practice so that the true scale of the problem is clear for all to see.
The Government needs to step up and sort out this crisis