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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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MP blasts ‘wholly unacceptable’ delays to South Cumbria ambulance call outs

DELAYS in ambulances reaching stricken patients are “wholly unacceptable” according to an MP.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed has raised the issue in parliament after concerns over elderly patients waiting more than an hour for ambulances in Millom.

The issue came to light after 83-year-old Audrey Preston, of Devonshire Road, fell while walking on Newton Street in January – breaking her left leg.

Mrs Preston faced cold weather and rain during an agonising one hour and 40 minutes wait for an ambulance.

Since her story was published in the Evening Mail, similar cases came to light including a woman waiting more than an hour for an ambulance after sustaining a triple fracture to her leg in Lancashire Road.

Mr Reed said he believes service changes at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven have put greater strain on the North West Ambulance Service, as more patients than expected have been taken to Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

“Fewer ambulances are able to respond to urgent calls,” he said.

“Delays of more than an hour are simply not acceptable and I have raised this issue with the government; it is time for them to take action rather than putting patients at risk.”

Mr Reed has tabled questions to health secretary Jeremy Hunt asking for a breakdown of ambulance delays in the region, and demanded answers from the NWAS.

In a letter to Bob Williams, chief executive of the service, he said: “As you will be aware, I have written to you on a number of occasions regarding individual cases, some of which have been covered by local news outlets.

“Having called for an ambulance, patients have been left to wait for up to, and sometimes more than, an hour.

“These patients are often outside and, over the winter, in bad weather. This is wholly unacceptable and should not be happening.

“I would be grateful if you could outline the steps you are taking to ensure that ambulance coverage is improved in rural areas such as Millom and other areas in my constituency”

The NWAS said it could not comment on individual cases.

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