Lancashire GP slams ‘appalling’ ambulance response

Worried: Dr Ian Jones
Worried: Dr Ian Jones
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A family doctor has hit out at the ambulance service after paramedics failed to respond to his emergency call to a child patient.

Dr Ian Jones rang 999 from his surgery in Penwortham when an 11-year-old boy complained of a shortage of breath after being hit in the chest playing football. But after a 45-minute wait the child’s mother called a taxi and took him to hospital herself.

“This isn’t a one-off, it keeps happening,” revealed Dr Jones, who is based at St Mary’s Health Centre in Cop Lane. “It’s been getting worse over the last 12 months really. It’s absolutely appalling.”

The GP called an ambulance when the youngster arrived exhibiting symptoms of a punctured lung.

“He had been hit in his chest by a football a couple of days earlier and he was short of breath,” he said. “I just wondered if he had a punctured lung and I thought it was sufficiently serious for a 999 admission to A&E.

“But when I called I was told that the service was busy and could it wait until tomorrow? I made the call at 4pm and by 4.45pm the ambulance still hadn’t arrived so I rang back and told them not to bother - the mother called a taxi instead. I don’t think a response time of three quarters of an hour is good enough.”

Dr Jones is now demanding to know why his call was not treated seriously enough. He has sent details of the case to the North West Ambulance Service and asked them to investigate what went wrong.

“It just isn’t good enough,” he said. “Only a few weeks before a youngster was seen by another doctor in the practice and needed an ambulance and that came, although it took 45 minutes.

“What hacks me off is that if you have a patient who you think might have something serious and needs admitting to hospital and they have to be taken by car, it can be a big risk if something goes wrong.

“The whole system is in a dire state. And the bottom line is funding. I have serious concerns. The ambulance service is a basic building block of the NHS and it is failing to deliver the most basic service.”

A sppkesperson for the NWAS said the complaint was being investigated.