North Norfolk Labour Party is continuing the campaign against cuts to the ambulance service in north Norfolk this weekend as the horror stories about response times continue to pile in.
Last weekend Labour members were on the streets of North Walsham encouraging residents to sign giant postcards to Norman Lamb calling for him and his colleagues in the health department to rethink their cuts to the NHS and ambulance service. Labour’s Act on Ambulances petition also hit 7,000 signatures from the public who are against the move. Although cuts in Cromer were overturned they will still affect North Walsham and Fakenham as well as a number of other bases across Norfolk.
On Tuesday the party heard from Mr Sadler from Sheringham who was concerned about the time it took his brother to get an ambulance after he suffered from a heart attack. He said that his sister-in-law dialled 999 at 4.45pm on Sunday evening, and it was 7.45pm before an ambulance arrived. He says that the first ambulance called had been diverted, while the second was delayed as it stopped for petrol. Mr Salder says his brother’s heart stopped twice – once after the attack and secondly in the ambulance when he was rushed to hospital. His brother is now recovering but Mr Sadler is speaking out because he is worried others will have to go through a similar situation because of government cuts.
Campaigners have also heard from the family of a Holt lady suffering from thrombosis and cancer. They called for an ambulance on Sunday because she was in a lot of pain. The triage system on the 999 number initially rejected calls for an ambulance, and informed the family they would have to call a GP out instead. The GP, upon arriving two hours later, insisted that an ambulance was called and it was only then she was admitted to hospital. The patient then went on to have emergency procedures including a blood transfusion at hospital. The family wish for her identity to remain anonymous but this raises questions about the triage system which is meant to dismiss only the non-emergency calls.
This week North Norfolk Labour Party members will be on the streets of Cromer from 10am armed with their petition and the giant Act on Ambulances postcards. They have also written once more to the East of England Ambulance Service Trust to see whether there have been any further developments with the monthly review promised for North Walsham.
Denise Burke, chair of North Norfolk Labour Party, said:
“These horror stories about ambulance response times in north Norfolk only represent the bigger picture before the government cuts have hit. As demand continues to grow across the country we remain deeply worried about what will happen when we arrive in the busy winter months, which is when Norfolk loses approximately seven double-staffed ambulances.
The East of England Ambulance Service Trust has pledged to review the cuts in north Norfolk on a monthly basis, and so we hope that patients will continue to speak up about their experiences.
As well as continuing our petition against the cuts we now want our MP, Norman Lamb, and the government to rethink their support for the cuts to ambulance funding at a time when demand for the service is increasing. The Prime Minister made a commitment in 2010 not to cut frontline services – his ministers should stick to it.”