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20 patients died following ambulance delays in East of England

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18 January 2018

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A whistleblower has told an MP that 20 people died ‘in incidents when ambulances arrived late’.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday (17 January), Labour MP Clive Lewis said that the issue about the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) 'was brought to him by a whistleblower’.

‘Critically overstretched’

A whistleblower has told an MP that 20 people died ‘in incidents when ambulances arrived late’.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday (17 January), Labour MP Clive Lewis said that the issue about the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) 'was brought to him by a whistleblower’.

‘Critically overstretched’

Mr Lewis said: ‘The service became critically overstretched as a result of high demand on 19 December.

‘At that point, senior operational managers wanted to move to National Ambulance Resilience Unit’s Resource Escalation Action Plan 4 (REAP), which is the highest state of emergency, and seek mutual aid, most likely from the armed forces.

‘However, that decision was not taken until 31 December, some 12 days later. Even then, aid was not requested by senior management.’

John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, advised Mr Lewis to ‘seek answers from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and consult his colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench’.

On New Year’s Eve and Day, the EEAST received more than 8,900 calls, a 12% increase in demand.

‘Extreme pressure’

From 31 December 2017 to 9 January 2018, the Trust kept rolling updates of winter pressures on its website, when it then faced ‘extreme pressure and very high demand on the service’.

On 9 January, the Trust reviewed its REAP level and decided to reduce it to level 3, ‘in light of some lessening of pressure in the past few days’, it said.

Kevin Brown, director of service delivery, said: ‘The reduction from extreme to severe shouldn’t detract from the severity of the operational pressure and previously, the Trust operated for a considerable period at REAP 3, which is reflective of the significant capacity gap that exists.’

REAP4 was created to maintain an effective and safe operational and clinical response for patients, as a response to huge pressure on the NHS, lengthy ambulance delays and 999 demand.

 

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