Express & Star comment: Ambulance abuse must be stopped
Many people reading this newspaper will have been in a situation where, after calling 999, they have had to wait for an ambulance.
Some would say that no matter how long the ambulance takes to arrive, it always seems like hours.
As we report today, for one unfortunate patient the wait literally was hours – 10 hours and 47 minutes to be precise – for a 50-year-old man with a head injury.
And the man was not the only one to face a lengthy response time after calling West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), with figures showing four other patients waited for around 10 hours for an ambulance to arrive.
According to WMAS, the widespread disruption caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ put extra pressure on already stretched services.
We have great sympathy for WMAS and its exceptionally hard-working staff, who do a fantastic job in dealing with huge demand.
However, they clearly need more support than they are getting now.
For a start, would it not be worth bosses investigating the number of calls that are made from the same addresses?
Each year thousands of ambulances are dispatched to a small number of properties dotted around the Black Country, often to deal with the problems encountered by drug addicts and alcoholics.
It is time that some type of weighting system was brought in, if only to deter frivolous and nuisance callers from taking up the valuable time of ambulance crews.
They must be fed up of acting as unofficial taxi services for regular ‘patients’, who then clog up A&E departments through their self-inflicted ailments.
How much longer does this valuable resource have to put up with people abusing it?
Lives are potentially being put at risk as a result of the selfish actions of addicts who could care less about the consequences of their behaviour.
Sadly, such individuals will continue to abuse the system until measures are implemented that prevent them from doing so.
There needs to be a serious review into ambulance response criteria and working procedures.
Only then can we hope to improve services for the wider population as a whole and prevent 10-hour waits.