Two south Lincolnshire MPs have secured a commitment from the Government to try to improve the performance of East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, and Matt Warman, whose Boston and Skegness constituency includes Kirton, Sutterton and Swineshead, took part in a debate concerning funding and other pressures on EMAS in Parliament.
The debate on Wednesday was moved by Derbyshire MP Ruth George who claimed that EMAS was failing to meet its ambulance response targets due to increased demand, continued underfunding and handover delays when patients reach hospital.
But Mr Hayes said: “While there may well be a resource challenge, there are also issues around administration, management process and protocols.
“Ambulances are waiting outside hospitals for a very long time because they cannot or will not admit patients.
“I, my wife and our teenage sons have all been to A & E (accident and emergency) at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, on two occasions by ambulance in an emergency, so I speak with that knowledge.
While there may well be a resource challenge, there are also issues around administration, management process and protocols, with ambulances are waiting outside hospitals for a very long time because they cannot or will not admit patientsJohn Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings
“Demand varies and we need to look at the character of demand, how we respond to it and at the drivers of it.
“It is, of course, always about resources, but it is not just about resources.”
According to its 2016/17 annual report, EMAS had an annual income of £173million and employed 3,290 staff who dealt nearly 940,000 emergency 999 and urgent calls.
But with a predicted deficit of £12million and EMAS having the second-worst response times out of England’s ten ambulance services, East Midlands MPs welcomed a pledge by Health Minister Steve Barclay to carry out a “demand and capacity review” of EMAS.
Mr Warman said: “Originally, we had a Lincolnshire ambulance service and EMAS was created to fix some of the problems we had in the county.
“But I would suggest that it has palpably not done that and it is clear that we face problems, with the waiting times and the service we get from EMAS management indicating that it is not serving us, as the elected representatives of patients, or patients themselves.”
Ben Holdaway, EMAS director of operations, said: “We respond to as many patients as safely and as quickly as we can with the number of vehicles and staff we have.
“However, it is our belief that despite efficiencies made at EMAS, there is a resourcing gap and we continue to discuss the level of funding and resources required.
“MPs acknowledged in the debate that the NHS continues to face huge pressure and that results in thousands of ambulance crew hours lost because we are kept waiting at hospital.
“This means crews are not able to go to new calls coming in from patients in the community, a symptom of wider NHS and social care challenges.
“We are doing what we can with other organisations to improve patient and staff welfare but despite these challenges, it is important to recognise that through our 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service, an incredible number of patients receive a good service and many lives are saved.”