MP demands Parliament debate over why patients are waiting hours for ambulances in Hartlepool and East Durham

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HARTLEPOOL’S MP is set to demand answers from the Government over why patients are waiting hours for ambulances.

Iain Wright has called for a debate in Parliament on the North East Ambulance Service’s response times and lack of resources.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

It comes after the Mail has reported on a string of cases of patients being left in pain while waiting hours for an ambulance to reach them, while in one case an inquest heard a 999 delay played a key role in a pensioner dying in his home after a fall.

Mr Wright said: “I have written to the speaker of the House of Commons asking for a debate on ambulance response times and resources.

“I hope to receive a response soon, but I will continue to press this in Parliament.

“People want to be assured that when they phone 999 they will receive high quality professionals and extremely quick response times.”

In the latest case Hartlepool pensioner Stan Kelly, 66, recovering from major heart surgery, waited almost four hours when his doctor summoned an ambulance over a chest infection.

And last month a coroner ruled William Gouldburn’s death after being left on his bathroom floor for two hours could have been avoided if an ambulance had got to him sooner.

Ambulance bosses admitted they did not have enough resources to meet demand at the 73-year-old’s inquest.

Mr Wright said: “The case of Mr Kelly reinforces the view that came out of Mr Gouldburn’s case that NEAS doesn’t have enough resources to meet demand.”

In both cases, and several others in Hartlepool and East Durham this year, people have waited hours for ambulances after being deemed “non-emergencies”.

But Mr Wright added: “One of the things I want to raise in Parliament is what is being classed as an emergency and whether it is right.

“I spoke to an ambulance worker who told me of a case in Newcastle of an old lady who had a broken collar bone that was incredibly painful but had to wait five hours for an ambulance.

“That seems an emergency to me. Is the Government encouraging ambulance services to re-diagnose cases as non-emergency when actually common sense and human decency would suggest they are?”

Easington MP Grahame Morris added he is very worried about the way ambulance service is being managed and has called for a meeting with bosses.

He said: “I have met with my local ambulance trade union representatives recently to try to gain an understanding of what is going wrong operationally.

“I have also asked to meet the Chief Executive and Chair of the trust to take up individual cases brought to my attention by constituents.

“Clearly, the trust and frontline staff are working under enormous financial pressure with a 25 per cent cut in its budget.

“These cuts are adversely impacting on response times.

“I am also concerned about sub-contracting to private ambulance operators and short term one year contracts under the new commissioning arrangements which make it very difficult for the trust to invest in improvements to service delivery.

“I will be taking up these issues when I meet with senior managers of the ambulance trust later this month.”