Former Leader of Swanley Town Council, and Lib Dem campaigner, Robert Woodbridge saw at first hand last weekend how the ambulance and A&E services in Kent are stretched to breaking point, as many others are finding across the country, potentially putting lives at risk.
On Thursday a member of his family had a suspected stroke. What followed was a mixture of individual staff heroism and organisational chaos.
“After the first symptoms I called an ambulance and a Volvo car arrived with blue lights flashing.
The paramedic was excellent. After assessing my wife he called for the ambulance. None were available, so after waiting half an hour he broke the rules and took her in his car! Good job he did.
I followed and was amazed to see when I got to Darent Valley A&E that there were several ambulance crew members standing around doing nothing – when they are needed on the road.
I asked what was going on and was told that, because of shortages of staff and beds, the hospital was ordered by government to leave patients in the care of the ambulance service.
This is because they did not have sufficient A&E staff to cope or process the patients! So they left them in the ambulances, which of course ties down them and their crews at the hospital.
As a result, they cannot get back on the road to help other people in need.”
Swanley and Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats say this this is utter madness. Kent’s cuts to social care are clogging up our hospitals as people can’t leave to go home.
That wastes valuable beds, and then as the queues build up this paralyses the ambulance service too.
The photos below show ambulances waiting outside Darent Valley A&E over the weekend.
The Tory Government, the NHS, and Kent County Council need to get their act together and invest in care where it’s needed most.
Expecting individual bits of the system to sort out all the problems isn’t working. And we need action now.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is calling for 1 pence to be added to income tax to make sure our NHS is fit for purpose for all needs, and we are talking to all other parties, patients and carers to build support for this urgent policy solution.