Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Ambulance Services in Elmbridge

This week, I visited Walton Ambulance station. I was briefed by William Pickering of South East Coast Ambulance Service, Sue Day a senior paramedic (below) and other paramedics on duty. These emergency paramedics on the frontline do a fantastic job for us locally, and I admire their commitment.

The service saw an increase in emergency calls during the recent cold snap - ranging from falls to car accidents - and typically get an increase in binge-drinking related incidents as the warm weather arrives. Their workload has steadily increased year on year, against a tight financial situation. Some of the increase reflects demographic change, and an ageing population. However, it is also evident that the ambulance service carries the can for wider failings in the NHS and social services. I heard a range of reports of ambulances being called out for patients who had been discharged too early from hospital or without adequate home care. In one case, an ambulance was called three times, over a short period, to return a patient to hospital. Such reports cast doubt on assertions by Surrey Community Health that bed reductions at our community hospitals reflect swifter treatment in hospital and better care at home.

Looking to the future, South East Coast Ambulance Service are applying for Foundation Trust status. If successful, it would provide the governing board with democratic representation elected from Surrey - giving local communities a greater say over the ambulance service they receive. I support the bid - an important part of the wider reform we need to make local public services more accountable to local people.


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