Union warning of pressures on paramedics

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Ambulance staff in Wigan and across the North West are at “breaking point”, a union representing paramedics has warned.

As A&E departments across the region struggle with increased activity, ambulance workers are having to wait longer to handover patients into the care of hospital staff.

The delays are putting patients’ lives at risk, the GMB union has said.

Lisa Ryan, GMB regional organiser, said: “Ambulance staff have seen a significant rise in calls, especially those with serious and life threatening conditions in the past months. Those calls are now being stacked within control rooms due to no vehicles being available to send.

“Staff are now at breaking point; increasingly frustrated, hanging around hospital corridors knowing that patients in the community are waiting for their help.

“They should not be expected to look after patients in hospital corridors while people suffer in the street.”

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) data shows that on Monday of this week, more than 300 ambulances waited longer than an hour to handover patients, with two ambulances waiting as long as six hours, resulting in them being unavailable for life threatening calls.

Delays also often result in solo paramedics in rapid response cars being left on scenes with patients in life-threatening conditions for similar amounts of time, the union added.

Last month, residents were urged to avoid Wigan’s A&E department unless a visit was “absolutely vital” on numerous occasions due to unprecedented demand.

And this situation has been reflected across the region, with emergency departments facing similar challenges.

Last month GMB said 30 per cent of life threatening calls are not responded to within eight minutes.