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Calls for GPs to be available to help relieve ambulance pressures

People are calling for GPs to be more available to the public in hopes it might relieve some of the immense pressure faced by the ambulance service.


Patients are being put at ‘catastrophic risk’ of harm due to ambulance handover delays at hospitals in the West Midlands – with some dying before help reaches them.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service heard at a meeting on Wednesday that the amount of time being lost to delays had reached previously unseen levels. And directors have warned the situation will get worse in winter.

In response to the news, members of the public have said more GP appointments need to be made available so people can get their conditions seen to early, without having to end up in an ambulance.

Catherine Pearce, from Wombourne, said: “Get the doctors back open. It’s stupid really, I’ve been to hospital today for my three monthly injections for my condition, so why can’t I see my GP if needed?

“People’s conditions are getting worse as they can’t see their GP, so hence the pressure on paramedics & hospitals. It was a five hour wait for my son who got knocked unconscious after a fall off his bike recently, bad facial injuries, loss of memory, luckily I got to him, his friend cancelled the ambulance and I took him to A&E myself as he had come around by then.”

Natalie Carroll, from Birmingham, added: “GPs really need to start doing face to face appointments, doctors at hospitals have to, so how are GP surgeries any different?”

And Wayne Brown from Walsall said: “It would stop overnight if doctors started doing face to face appointments. People cannot see a doctor so next call is a ambulance.” As a result of the news of the delays, the WMAS board has taken the unprecedented step of moving handover delays to ‘risk rating 25′ – the highest possible level of risk. It is the first time any risk has been categorised as ‘25’ in the history of WMAS.

Nationally, hospitals in England have now been ordered to “eliminate” ambulance queues outside hospitals after two deaths were linked to handover delays. The WMAS risk rating shows that the trust believes that patient harm is “almost certain” due to the handover delays.

Mr Docherty said: “We know that there are patients that are having significant harm and indeed, through our review of learning from deaths, we know that sadly some patients are dying before we get to them.”

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