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This government cannot continue to ignore the crisis in our ambulance services

This government cannot continue to ignore the crisis in our ambulance services
4 min read

At 6pm last Friday evening, the headteacher of a local secondary school contacted me in desperation.

A year 11 pupil at her school had fallen and sustained a serious injury on the multi-surface pitch around six hours earlier. He could not be moved, was in agony, and as night drew in the school was still waiting for an ambulance to arrive. In addition to a suspected fracture, the staff were now battling potential hypothermia.

I would like to be able to say that emails of this nature are extremely rare. 

But the reality of the situation is that I have had several in just eleven weeks as the MP for North Shropshire. An elderly constituent waited for 17 hours with a broken leg just a few weeks ago. Critical incidents have been declared by the local hospital trust on three separate occasions. I have seen queues of 12 ambulances waiting to admit patients at our local A&E.

The Conservative government's silence on the issue is deafening, inexplicable and after what I have seen and heard beyond defensible. 

I live in dread of another email informing me that when the ambulance finally arrived, it was too late

I have written to the Health Secretary Sajid Javid on three separate occasions to request a meeting – the purpose of which would be to impress upon him the seriousness of Shropshire’s healthcare crisis. He has not even had the courtesy to respond. 

He ignores face-to-face requests. In the House of Commons last week, he told me that he had met with West Midlands Ambulance Service, the very service which serves his own constituency, but then ignored my plea for help in Shropshire, where people are at risk of dying avoidable deaths.

This government has not only failed our health service, but they have also run it into the ground and think they can gloss over it. But the urgent care crisis in Shropshire has hit them where it hurts – the ballot box.

In the early hours of 17 December, I overturned a 23,000 Conservative majority in a seat that had been safe for nearly 200 years, following a campaign focussed on this very issue - the state of our local health services, in particular of our ambulance service. 

This Conservative government is at risk if they continue to ignore this issue. But the facts are clear, nine of 11 ambulance services in England are still at REAP level 4, the highest alert level, three months after it was first confirmed that every ambulance service in England was at that level.

This means almost all of our ambulance services are under “extreme pressure.” If the government doesn't think this is a huge unignorable issue then they have lost touch with reality. 

This government and Boris Johnson may think they can get away with anything, but this is an issue that the people of Shropshire will not forget. When their children or grandchildren succumb to hypothermia lying on a damp Astro-turf pitch for seven hours because there is no ambulance, they understand that the government is failing them. 

When their elderly mother waits in agony on the floor for 17 hours because there is no ambulance, they understand that the government is failing them. When they are told only to go to a hospital if there is a risk of death, for the third time in six weeks, they understand that the government is failing them.

The Conservatives were sent a message with my election last year - it will be at their peril to continue to ignore it.

While they bury their heads in the sand and hope it will sort itself out, I live in dread of another email informing me that when the ambulance finally arrived, it was too late.

 

Helen Morgan is the Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire.

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