Ambulance cover warning as St Helier Hospital units face axe

Wimbledon Guardian: Bill Arkell has said more ambulances will be required to maintain service if St Helier Hospital loses its A&E and maternity Bill Arkell has said more ambulances will be required to maintain service if St Helier Hospital loses its A&E and maternity

The loss of St Helier Hospital’s accident and emergency department could leave Sutton without sufficient ambulance cover, 999 bosses have warned.

A London Ambulance Service (LAS) senior officer has said the proposals by health bosses to close St Helier’s accident and emergency (A&E) and maternity units could leave a gap in the hospital’s catchment area.

Speaking at a Sutton Council meeting about the NHS Better Services Better Value (BSBV) plans to axe the frontline services, Bill Arkell, operations manager at St Helier, Sutton, and Streatham ambulance stations, raised concerns about how diverting ambulances to other areas would draw them away from Sutton.

He said a further four ambulances, costing up to £1.5m a year, would need to be employed in the area to fill the gap. BSBV have disputed this figure.

Average ambulance journey times to St Helier are currently eight-and-a-half minutes.

Mr Arkell anticipated ambulances which currently would go to St Helier would have increased journey times to 16-17 minutes to Kingston Hospital, 18-20 minutes to Croydon University Hospital and 14-15 minutes to St George’s Hospital.

Councillor Mary Burstow, chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “These are truly alarming figures. Report after report has shown that the quicker people get treatment the better the outcome.

“Doubling journey times can only put Sutton residents at greater risk.”

Turnaround times at Kingston, Croydon and St George’s for ambulances are all 30 minutes, compared to 15 minutes at St Helier, which would again decrease how quickly ambulances could get back on the road after dropping off patients.

Some 14,500 ambulance journeys are currently made to St Helier each year.

Michael Bailey, senior hospital surgeon and acute medical director for BSBV, said its proposals were about improving patient care.

The extra funding for ambulances is expected to be provided if required.

Mr Arkell said the ambulance service had yet to be consulted by the BSBV team on its proposals, although a BSBV spokesman disputed this, saying discussions had taken place at a high level.

An LAS spokesman said: “We will be working with our NHS partners to ensure that any changes to health services in south-west London will not impact on patient care.

“However, if an A&E closure means longer journey times for our crews, we will need extra funding so that we can provide additional ambulance resources in the area.”

A BSBV spokesman said: “BSBV works with senior London Ambulance Service (LAS) managers and will continue to do so. LAS signed off the blue-light ambulance data used by the scoring panel.

“Statements about BSBV’s impact on Sutton ambulance services are misleading and leave the impression that four new ambulances will be needed if St Helier’s emergency department closes.

"This is based on a wrong assumption that all patients now taken by ambulance to St Helier will be taken to another emergency department, which won’t be the case.

“Many patients taken by LAS to emergency departments will instead access the healthcare they need from better out-of-hours and improved community-based services.

"And travelling further by blue-light ambulance saves lives, as putting all hyper-acute stroke and major trauma services at St George’s in Tooting has shown.

“BSBV is aligned with London ambulance’s vision to cut inappropriate use of LAS.

"Only about a third of incidents attended by LAS last year were life-threatening requiring immediate emergency treatment; a quarter of incidents LAS attended were neither serious nor life-threatening.”

Comments (9)

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11:02am Thu 14 Jun 12

annon123 says...

What they need to look at is how many people who currently make their own way to St Helier, by either Car, Taxi or Bus will, if St Helier is closed, move to not making their own way, but will instead call an Ambulance........... So this will mean an extra stretch on the ambulance service. A taxi fare from my house to St Helier is £4.40, to Kingston is £14+ and St Georges is £18+, not to mention the travelling time, my house by car/taxi 7-10 mins, to Kingston 30mins to an hour (or more) and to St Georges 40 mins to an hour or more.
What they need to look at is how many people who currently make their own way to St Helier, by either Car, Taxi or Bus will, if St Helier is closed, move to not making their own way, but will instead call an Ambulance........... So this will mean an extra stretch on the ambulance service. A taxi fare from my house to St Helier is £4.40, to Kingston is £14+ and St Georges is £18+, not to mention the travelling time, my house by car/taxi 7-10 mins, to Kingston 30mins to an hour (or more) and to St Georges 40 mins to an hour or more. annon123

12:18pm Thu 14 Jun 12

theavengers says...

Money over lives, that's what's important. When will you have an emergency or your loved one and they end up dead due to delay? It won't affect those who make the closures as they are rich enough to get a chaffeur to a private hospital while the rest of us die. What do I pay NI for?
Money over lives, that's what's important. When will you have an emergency or your loved one and they end up dead due to delay? It won't affect those who make the closures as they are rich enough to get a chaffeur to a private hospital while the rest of us die. What do I pay NI for? theavengers

2:34pm Thu 14 Jun 12

Michael Pantlin says...

“BSBV is aligned with London ambulance’s vision to cut inappropriate use of LAS." This is code for how difficult it is to get an ambulance since they started cutting them and rationing them. Instead of getting sympathetic and immediate help when you dial 999 you get an interrogation with endless questions and if the person making the call is not up to the job you are refused an ambulance and put through to an NHS Direct Nurse. This happened to me last year with a life-threatening condition and I was saved by one of our gentlemen Sutton black cab drivers. I put LAS control through their complaints procedure and someone got hauled over the coals though I'm not sure it was the right person who took the flak. The local paramedics are wonderful the trouble is with the management and politicians. I am convinced that Bill Arkell has the truth and he should be supported by the local population for his bravery in speaking out if the top management practice their Dark Arts on him for not going along with their politically correct PR. During the big freeze up over a year ago it took several hours for
caring paramedics to get an injured friend through the ice and gridlocked traffic just from Carshalton Beeches to St. Helier. The time to St. George's would be enormous in the same conditions and what if St. George's was swamped by casualties from a major incident such as a train crash, taking St. Helier's A&E load too? Or closed temporarily as happens through infection, fire, terrorist action or a flu epidemic? Don't let these wrecking cuts happen.
“BSBV is aligned with London ambulance’s vision to cut inappropriate use of LAS." This is code for how difficult it is to get an ambulance since they started cutting them and rationing them. Instead of getting sympathetic and immediate help when you dial 999 you get an interrogation with endless questions and if the person making the call is not up to the job you are refused an ambulance and put through to an NHS Direct Nurse. This happened to me last year with a life-threatening condition and I was saved by one of our gentlemen Sutton black cab drivers. I put LAS control through their complaints procedure and someone got hauled over the coals though I'm not sure it was the right person who took the flak. The local paramedics are wonderful the trouble is with the management and politicians. I am convinced that Bill Arkell has the truth and he should be supported by the local population for his bravery in speaking out if the top management practice their Dark Arts on him for not going along with their politically correct PR. During the big freeze up over a year ago it took several hours for caring paramedics to get an injured friend through the ice and gridlocked traffic just from Carshalton Beeches to St. Helier. The time to St. George's would be enormous in the same conditions and what if St. George's was swamped by casualties from a major incident such as a train crash, taking St. Helier's A&E load too? Or closed temporarily as happens through infection, fire, terrorist action or a flu epidemic? Don't let these wrecking cuts happen. Michael Pantlin

2:58pm Thu 14 Jun 12

westsutton says...

I was at the scrutiny meeting. It was a total farce. The BSBV clowns had no detailed information and it topped up they's paid £1.5 million to management consultants to draw up St Helier's execution notice. It also became clear this decision is wholly bound up in the Government's NHS cuts and reorganisation programme and is being driven by NHS London on behalf of the Dept of Health... where local MP Paul Burstow is a Minister.
I was at the scrutiny meeting. It was a total farce. The BSBV clowns had no detailed information and it topped up they's paid £1.5 million to management consultants to draw up St Helier's execution notice. It also became clear this decision is wholly bound up in the Government's NHS cuts and reorganisation programme and is being driven by NHS London on behalf of the Dept of Health... where local MP Paul Burstow is a Minister. westsutton

7:41pm Thu 14 Jun 12

kazza76 says...

my fellow campaigner was at the meeting and told me how they couldn't answer a straight question and were full of hot air. they are putting lives in the firing line and we as residents have to fight this all the way.
please join our fb page; save st helier maternity and a&e
my fellow campaigner was at the meeting and told me how they couldn't answer a straight question and were full of hot air. they are putting lives in the firing line and we as residents have to fight this all the way. please join our fb page; save st helier maternity and a&e kazza76

6:49pm Fri 15 Jun 12

Michael Pantlin says...

westsutton wrote:
I was at the scrutiny meeting. It was a total farce. The BSBV clowns had no detailed information and it topped up they's paid £1.5 million to management consultants to draw up St Helier's execution notice. It also became clear this decision is wholly bound up in the Government's NHS cuts and reorganisation programme and is being driven by NHS London on behalf of the Dept of Health... where local MP Paul Burstow is a Minister.
It's all too clear to me where all this is going, nothing less than the destruction of our public cherishede NHS to let PM Cameron's private health care cronies open up a local market driven by pain and delay.
How will it work? Well St. George's is a "Foundation Status" hospital in their jargon and has the go ahead to use half their beds and facilities for private patients. So roughly speaking public capacity halved putting intolerable pressure on the already cut beds. Throw into this mix all the Carshalton & Sutton NHS health refugees adding a further crush of a quart into a pint pot and ensuing delay and suffering which will force anyone to part with any savings they have for treatment when they need it. The collateral damage viz patients brought in dead in the ambulance and those who die at home because that is the only place they have to be in will not show up on the hospital mortality statistics so the scandal will be buried literally. But for those who want or have to book and pay for their treatment Lo and Behold a "State-of-the-art" operating department whatever that means above "modern" (well they wouldn't build an old fashioned theatre would they) especially when they already have theatres at St. Helier. This stitch-up stinks and the politicians, civil servants, and BSBV which will be abolished when it's done it's dirty work deserve nothing less than to be placed in stocks on Wrythe Green to allow the affected residents to demonstrate their opinion with rotten eggs and tomatoes.
[quote][p][bold]westsutton[/bold] wrote: I was at the scrutiny meeting. It was a total farce. The BSBV clowns had no detailed information and it topped up they's paid £1.5 million to management consultants to draw up St Helier's execution notice. It also became clear this decision is wholly bound up in the Government's NHS cuts and reorganisation programme and is being driven by NHS London on behalf of the Dept of Health... where local MP Paul Burstow is a Minister.[/p][/quote]It's all too clear to me where all this is going, nothing less than the destruction of our public cherishede NHS to let PM Cameron's private health care cronies open up a local market driven by pain and delay. How will it work? Well St. George's is a "Foundation Status" hospital in their jargon and has the go ahead to use half their beds and facilities for private patients. So roughly speaking public capacity halved putting intolerable pressure on the already cut beds. Throw into this mix all the Carshalton & Sutton NHS health refugees adding a further crush of a quart into a pint pot and ensuing delay and suffering which will force anyone to part with any savings they have for treatment when they need it. The collateral damage viz patients brought in dead in the ambulance and those who die at home because that is the only place they have to be in will not show up on the hospital mortality statistics so the scandal will be buried literally. But for those who want or have to book and pay for their treatment Lo and Behold a "State-of-the-art" operating department whatever that means above "modern" (well they wouldn't build an old fashioned theatre would they) especially when they already have theatres at St. Helier. This stitch-up stinks and the politicians, civil servants, and BSBV which will be abolished when it's done it's dirty work deserve nothing less than to be placed in stocks on Wrythe Green to allow the affected residents to demonstrate their opinion with rotten eggs and tomatoes. Michael Pantlin

7:47am Tue 19 Jun 12

Danny Bhoy says...

If I was hit by a car today in Sutton and seriously injured, I would be taken to St George's. This has been the case for a few years, because that is where the specialist team is to treat trauma. I would be travelling past my local hospital but my life would be more likely to be saved as a result. If of course I had a bad cough and called an ambulance, which loads of people do for minor things according to the London Ambulance people, I would expect them to tell me to get in a taxi or wait till my GP was open! Everyone wants everything on their doorstep but I would rather have a big hospital with the right expertise within a few miles.
If I was hit by a car today in Sutton and seriously injured, I would be taken to St George's. This has been the case for a few years, because that is where the specialist team is to treat trauma. I would be travelling past my local hospital but my life would be more likely to be saved as a result. If of course I had a bad cough and called an ambulance, which loads of people do for minor things according to the London Ambulance people, I would expect them to tell me to get in a taxi or wait till my GP was open! Everyone wants everything on their doorstep but I would rather have a big hospital with the right expertise within a few miles. Danny Bhoy

7:51am Tue 19 Jun 12

Danny Bhoy says...

In fact I think it's a scandal that 25% of ambulance calls last year were neither serious or life threatening. They're not taxis you know.
In fact I think it's a scandal that 25% of ambulance calls last year were neither serious or life threatening. They're not taxis you know. Danny Bhoy

6:20pm Tue 19 Jun 12

hawk1979 says...

When the olympics are happening we will see what stress the LAS (London Ambulance Service is under).

I already know that over the Jublee weekend the LAS couldn't cope witht he crowds and numbers, and had to get help from other Ambulance Services. I know that Cleveland send Ambulances and crews to cover London as did many other services.
When the olympics are happening we will see what stress the LAS (London Ambulance Service is under). I already know that over the Jublee weekend the LAS couldn't cope witht he crowds and numbers, and had to get help from other Ambulance Services. I know that Cleveland send Ambulances and crews to cover London as did many other services. hawk1979

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