Paramedic at crisis-struck hospital says ‘they have nowhere to put patients’


A paramedic told the Mirror: ‘I am a changed person because of what I have seen. Before Christmas, I was broken, running on adrenalin. I was not the only one.’

Ambulances
A paramedic at the service urging patients to get a lift to hospital has opened up about the crisis facing 999 staff

A paramedic at the service urging patients to get a lift to hospital has opened up about the crisis facing 999 staff.

North East Ambulance chiefs made the unprecedented plea due to high demand and low staffing levels caused by coronavirus.

In Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital suffered long queues of emergency vehicles over Christmas. Five ambulances and an emergency paramedic car lined up there yesterday/today.

One paramedic told the Mirror: “At the QE over Christmas, we were queuing up every time we took a patient. It is bed blocking, when the hospital is full. It is horrendous, they have nowhere to put patients.

“That’s where the problem lies. You have to wait your turn and it can take hours. That affects the waiting time for patients on emergency calls because ambulances are standing outside A&E.

‘You have to wait your turn and it can take hours. That affects the waiting time for patients on emergency calls because ambulances are standing outside A&E’
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Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

“The first wave was terrible, you had people who could not breathe and they were dying in front of you. They were gasping their last, we were giving them oxygen but there was nothing you could do for them.

“I am a changed person because of what I have seen. Before Christmas, I was broken, running on adrenalin. I was not the only one. In the NHS, we tend to be forgotten. We really are on the frontline, the first to see Covid patients.”

The source added: “You may have a dementia patient, confused and upset, in the ambulance queuing up. We get messages via control if a hospital is full. You can travel miles to find a bed.”

A recent dispute hit morale when NEAS medics were criticised over 30 minute meal breaks.

“In the West End of Newcastle a passing motorist shouted ‘murderers’ at a crew,” said the source.

A paramedic has been urging patients to get a lift to hospital where possible
(

Image:

Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

“Another guy was asked: ‘Are you on your break?’ at the QE. We work 12 hour shifts and our breaks are unpaid.”

North East Ambulance Service is still asking patients suffering from suspected strokes or heart attacks to get relatives to drive them to hospital.

Medical director, Dr Mathew Beattie, said the service was dealing with increased demand over the new year, as well as staff sickness linked to the Omicron variant.

He added: “Under normal circumstances, we would move up and down our clinical escalation levels reactively as each point is triggered or demand reduces.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, but when patients are waiting an average of an hour for an ambulance that should be responding within 18 minutes, there is a risk for them coming to harm if they cannot get to hospital quickly.”

No patient harm has been identified as a result of the decision, Dr Beattie said.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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