Updated: MP Sir Edward slams ‘unacceptable’ delays

The work of East Midlands Ambulance Service nurses has been celebrated as part of International Nurses Day (May 12) EMN-170116-170928001
The work of East Midlands Ambulance Service nurses has been celebrated as part of International Nurses Day (May 12) EMN-170116-170928001
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MP Sir Edward Leigh has slammed waiting times for ambulances in the Market Rasen area as ‘unacceptable’.

In a further attack on NHS services in his constituency, he says waiting times to see a doctor are also a concern.

Sir Edward claims the problems stem from a ‘long term’ lack of investment in NHS services in the area.

Sir Edward said: “In rural north Lincolnshire, people can wait more than three weeks to see a doctor and can wait two hours for an ambulance to come.

“Yes, people have waited two hours, lying in the street, in places such as Market Rasen, while they wait for an ambulance.

“That is not acceptable and it can be even worse on occasions.”

The Tory MP was speaking in a parliamentary debate on Mental Health and NHS Performances in the House of Commons.

Sir Edward did not go into detail about specific cases but acknowledged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt faced an impossible task trying to improve performances.

Sir Edward added: “Everyone knows that the Secretary of State has an impossible job, which he does with humanity and energy.

“One part of his impossible job relates to the two-tier system, whereby much depends on where people live.

“This comes on top of long-term lack of investment, which means we lack a psychiatric unit at the Peter Hodgkinson centre in Lincoln.”

Sir Edward repeated his suggestion that patients should be charged for any appointments they failed to keep as a way of helping fund NHS services.

He said: “I wonder whether we now need to start an honest discussion with the people about how we are going to devote more resources to health in this country.

“It could be through social insurance models or even—God forbid, and I know people will not agree with this - charging people who do not turn up for appointments.”

In a statement, EMAS defended its record, saying it lacks the funds to meet the national performance standard which requires ambulance services to get to 75 per cent of all potentially life-threatening calls within eight minutes.

EMAS general manager Blanche Lentz said staff were continuing to see an increase in the number of patients accessing the service and also stressed ambulances are kept waiting with patients at hospitals, they are not able to be out in the community.

She said: “We continue to escalate concerns to our commissioners about patient safety, our staff welfare and the financial strains experienced.

“Despite these challenges and significant increase in demand during December 2016, EMAS reached 1,485 more red calls - patients reported to be in a potentially life threatening condition - within eight minutes compared to the same time the previous year.”

She added EMAS were also recruiting 300 frontline staff this year - and investing in new ambulances. Commissioners are also currently carrying out a review into the organisation’s finances.

Responding to the criticism about ambulances being forced to wait, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, which runs hospitals in the county, says that it is ‘making investments and working with our colleagues at EMAS to reduce the handover times from ambulance to the A&E department’.