Overnight ambulance cover in Worthing to be cut

PARAMEDICS are fearing the worst as plans to halve the number of overnight ambulances on call from Worthing were confirmed.

Staff based out of the ambulance station in Yeoman Road, Worthing, claim the change will put patients’ lives at risk and will increase the pressure on an already over-stretched team.

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) claim it will improve patient care and see resources deployed to where they are most needed. But a SECAmb employee from Worthing, who asked not to be named, said: “If you ask anybody, a paramedic or a technician here in Worthing, they will tell you that is not enough.

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“We are worried about patient care and it will suffer now because we won’t have the resources we need.

“If we are only just coping with things the way they are now, how are we going to cope when we are effectively reduced by half?”

They added: “When you go back to the station after a call, it used to be that you would see other crews, but you never do now because they’re always busy out on calls. And for the last year, we never get our second break, which is supposed to be 20 minutes, because we’re always too busy to take it.”

The changes to ambulance deployment have come about following a SECAmb rota review of services across the region. As such, changes are likely to be made involving the deployment of ambulances from Shoreham and Littlehampton

The review found approximately 30 per cent of overnight calls do not result in a transportation to hospital, and so decided introducing an extra response car and axing two ambulances would provide a better service for Worthing. It is likely the change will come into effect before the end of this year.

The SECAmb staff member added: “Morale is already really low, and it’s going to get even worse.

“If both ambulances are already out in calls, and another red (emergency) call comes in, it could result in people not being able to get in an ambulance when they need them. This could impact on their health and recovery.

“We’re just really concerned about it all. You can’t predict when people are going to be ill, so I just don’t understand it.”

A SECAmb statement said: “Technology has allowed us to forecast with greater accuracy when and where our patients will need our services and the review is to ensure that we have the right number of resources to meet the demand that is placed upon us.

“Using this information, we evaluate on a monthly, weekly and daily basis where and when we need our clinicians available to ensure patients receive the most responsive service possible.

“We know that we need more resources to respond to patients during the day and fewer in some areas during the early hours of the morning. Therefore, we know we do not require as many transporting ambulances and need to increase the number of clinicians in response cars who have the right skills to deal with these emergencies.

“We recognise that any changes to rotas can be unsettling for staff and have been working with them and with staff-side union representatives to ensure they are involved in the process and that we have rotas that provide the best possible service to patients.”