Failures in the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) point only too clearly to the decline in our National Health Service.
It has emerged recently that paramedics working for a private company employed by EMAS to cover staff shortages have been living in tents at a local camp site as their allowance is not enough to cover hotel bills and food. Given that the company is almost certainly getting paid very well, this tells us that employees are being badly exploited. Will they still be there in the winter? Patients should be very concerned, not least about whether they are getting adequate rest.
In May it was reported by the Care Quality Commission that EMAS was on the verge of collapse and short on vehicles and staff. Improvements were needed in 3 out of 6 main inspection categories including response times, staffing and supporting its workers. The service was understaffed by at least 5%.
As a result of missing the national target of responding to 95 per cent of all life-threatening emergencies within 19 minutes, the ambulance service was been fined £3.5 million – which presumably will be paid by the taxpayer!
It is the third successive year key targets have been missed and the service is one of only two ambulance trusts in England to be fined.
Last year the service proposed a reorganisation. The 66 ambulance stations across the East Midland region would be replaced with 13 “hubs” and 118 community ambulance posts under the plan. Many residents were concerned about the lack of proper coverage in more rural areas. For example more than 3,500 people have signed a petition opposing plans to reduce the number of ambulance stations in Northamptonshire where EMAS wants to cut the number of its main bases in the county from nine to two.
Almost certainly as the new NHS commissioning of services gets going there will be more pressure on providers like EMAS and cuts and privatisation will become the norm across the country.
See our Vision For Health for more information on how our health services should be run.