Croydon NHS crisis as only 51% of ambulances achieve target

Lives of the elderly, frail and ill could be at risk this winter, as Croydon’s NHS ambulance service struggles to cope with demand.

Ambulance genericBarely half of ambulance call-outs in Croydon achieved their target response times this autumn – and that was before the cold, dark winter nights and the annual winter increase in demand for emergency NHS care.

“These figures raise real concerns that more lives are being put at risk in Croydon,” said Sarah Jones, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central. “For people in a life-threatening state, every second counts and that is why this slump in standards cannot continue.”

The London Ambulance Service has a Category A response target of eight minutes, from receiving a 999 call to attending a medical emergency.

But in Croydon in September, ambulances managed to attend an emergency within eight minutes in just 51 per cent of cases.

In October, Croydon ambulances responded within eight minutes to 999 calls in 54 per cent of cases.

These figures – from the LAS’s own records – are down by 19 per cent from the London Ambulance Service’s response times in Croydon as recently as May.

That is a very a worrying steep decline in the level of service. There has been similarly steep drop in the ambulance response metric across the capital, indicative of another government-induced NHS crisis, with potentially deadly consequences. But Croydon is among the worst areas hit by the ambulance crisis.

That 19 per cent fall between May and October puts Croydon in the worst three London boroughs for the level of decline in ambulance response times – a critical measure of health service provision, in an area of care where every minute can make a vital difference to the outcome of treatment.

Mayday: the problems with Croydon's ambulances are another concern over the NHS for Labour candidate Sarah Jones

Mayday: the problems with Croydon’s ambulances are another concern over the NHS for Labour candidate Sarah Jones

With delays over GP appointments growing ever longer and Accident and Emergency provision being under ever-greater pressure, these ambulance response statistics demonstrate that the NHS is creaking under the strain placed upon it by ConDem government’s approach to our health service.

“I have written to Richard Hunt, the chairman of the London Ambulance Service, to express my concern, and my fear that other people will suffer,” Jones said.

“The Conservatives’ abolition of guaranteed access to GP services and undermining of social care has left hospitals under intolerable pressure.”

Next May, Jones will be standing for election against the Conservative MP, Gavin Barwell. In parliament recently, Clive Efford, a Labour MP from south London, proposed a bill to stop the privatisation of the NHS. More than 150 Croydon Central constituents wrote to their MP, Barwell, asking him to back Efford’s bill.

Barwell, a government whip, didn’t bother to vote.

“People who have faced an anxious wait for an ambulance will be stunned by Barwell’s complacency,” Jones said. “He says one thing in Croydon and does another in Westminster.”

Jones had been approached recently by a Croydon resident whose wife had died after she had been forced to wait for an hour and a half for an ambulance to take her to hospital. “He had to make three calls to 999, each time desperate to get a response, but kept being told to ring back if her condition deteriorated,” Jones said.

“The gentleman came to me because he does not want this tragedy to happen to anyone else. I feel an obligation to do something about it, not least because I have heard similar stories from many other people in Croydon.

“Labour will guarantee a GP appointment in 48 hours, invest in more doctors and nurses and stop the privatisation of the NHS.

“I never want to hear another story like the gentlemen I saw this week. The government must take action now.”


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