This is not the first Ambulance Trust scandal. If we are to have a system “In Place of Fear“, then the Ambulance service is essential. There is however, no reason that Ambulances should be free to all citizens… When NHSreality began we warned about the conflict in managers meeting both financial and quality objectives. Ambulance failure is part of a pattern..
The chairman of the scandal-hit South East Coast ambulance service has quit as the furore over its delays and mis-reporting of 999 attendance figures spread.
Tony Thorne, quit his post just six months after the trust was blasted for its “experiment” – delaying sending help for some calls to allow extra time for patient assessments – which ended in failure.
Whistleblowers inside the trust said that under-fire chief executive officer, Paul Sutton, who has been on unexplained annual leave since last Monday, was expected to also resign.
Staff were told seven days ago that Sutton was “just on annual leave for a week” but he was still absent.
Thorne’s resignation follows a crisis meeting of bosses at the trust. Last October, it emerged that Secamb, which covers Kent, Surrey, Sussex and north-east Hampshire, delayed sending help for certain 111 calls as part of a pilot project. It transferred them instead to the 999 system to re-assess what type of advice or treatment patients needed and whether an ambulance was really required.
The trust defended the project but acknowledged the “serious findings” of a report into the practice which was exposed last week.
My prediction is that the financial imperative, the dominance of “emergency” medicine to trump all other needs, will mean slowly but surely the softer areas of the health services, such as dementia, psychiatry and disability will be downgraded. Covert rationing by knee-jerk decisions will increase and only when there are sufficient numbers of the public with stories of failure that the politicians have to act, will something happen… Combining Health and Social Services had potential, but only when there was enough money to make the changes. Now the risks of failure are very high..