The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service misplaced a file 34% of its operational capability final month whereas sufferers waited outdoors hospitals.
Last week, two hospitals in Northern Ireland stated they had been working “beyond capacity” and one other was so full, it declared a serious incident.
A 77-year-old lady died whereas ready on a trolley for a number of hours in an emergency division (ED).
Forty crews had been treating sufferers outdoors EDs as Sky News joined an evening shift at ambulance headquarters in Belfast.
It isn’t what Laura Reynolds anticipated to be doing when she certified as a paramedic two years in the past.
“We spend a lot of our time frustratingly waiting at emergency departments,” she stated.
“You hear calls on the channel for category one calls that need covered and we need crews and we’ve maybe sat at an ED for 10 hours, 11 hours for some of our shifts.”
John Walsh has been a paramedic for 19 years and used to deal with 10 sufferers in a 12-hour shift.
Last Monday, he was capable of deal with solely two in a shift that lasted 15 hours.
He stated: “The first patient we had on the stretcher for over six hours waiting outside a hospital… and the second patient we had for four hours before getting relieved by another crew so that we could actually get home.
“Up till the beginning of COVID, I by no means needed to take care of a affected person in an ambulance. I might take the affected person straight into the hospital.”
We were interviewing the chief executive of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service when a 999 call to the control room vividly illustrated the dilemma.
“Keep your self as secure as you possibly can. Can you see anyone? Can you hear anyone screaming?” an emergency dispatcher asked the caller.
It was a reported road traffic accident – someone feared trapped in a burning vehicle, and they needed an ambulance immediately.
I requested chief government Michael Bloomfield if the dearth of capability in hospitals was hampering their means to answer life-threatening conditions.
“It absolutely increases the risk to life and to serious harm,” he stated.
“Those 13,500 hours that we are unable to respond to other calls waiting, while we’re waiting with patients outside an ED, there are many people during that time who are very ill who need an ambulance.”
With no functioning authorities or well being minister at Stormont, there isn’t any one to steer makes an attempt to deal with the disaster.
Those on the frontline – paramedics working across the clock to avoid wasting lives – are bearing the brunt of that political failure.