The inquiry will never happen now. A motion for an inquiry into the current ambulance crisis was kicked into touch today by Shropshire Council Conservatives. A wrecking amendment was presented by Dean Carrol, he is the Conservatives’ chief attacker of everything from the opposition even though he does not have the health remit. The amendment was backed by council leader Lezley Picton who seems to live in different bubble to the rest of us believing everything is being done while nothing much is being done.
This was an occasion when Shropshire Council could have shown leadership across the community at a time of crisis in our health services. Instead, the Tory leaders whinged and bleated. Tory councillors voted like sheep – they are told how to vote at council and are punished if they disobey.
The result is that the only body that can lead the inquiry we urgently need has abdicated responsibility. No. It’s worse than that. It has abdicated leadership.
This is a Conservative council that administrates. Writes policies that are like cotton wool. Dreams of reconstructing Shrewsbury town centre and building grand new roads. But it can’t cope with the crisis of our times. Health. As exemplified by the ambulance crisis.
Listening to BBC Radio Shropshire this morning brought me and so many others to tears. The story of a man who lost his wife in endless delays when a restful end of life was needed. There are no longer a few of these stories in Shropshire. They are commonplace.
At the centre of this is ambulance crisis. Long delays in patients being transferred in to A&E when they arrive at RSH and PRH. A knock on effect of ambulances queuing at A&E means they are not available to pick up patients elsewhere.
The ambulance crisis is possibly more symptom than cause. But we can’t get to the bottom of that without a through inquiry. Where are the problems? Where are the solutions?
This morning, councillors put forward a motion to Shropshire Council to set up working group with other bodies to investigate the crisis in delays to ambulances getting to patients and transferring them into A&E. The intention was to look at all aspects of the current crisis working alongside other agencies and advocates in our health community.
Talking about the ambulance crisis has become the house style of Shropshire Council Conservatives. Doing something about the crisis is another matter. Today, to the Conservative’s disgrace, they effectively blocked a council led inquiry into the ambulance crisis at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust (SaTH) by setting up a review into whether a review should take place. Sir Humphry would have been proud of the Tories’ wrecking amendment. Typical shrugging of shoulders by the Conservative administration
Motion 4 – Ambulance Response Times
Amendment proposed by the Conservative Group
- The following motion has been received from Councillor Tracey Huffer, seconded by Councillor Heather Kidd, and is supported by Andy Boddington and Richard Huffer
- At its February meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to back a petition requesting the council’s support for the countywide campaign for improving ambulance responses times in returning an ambulance hub back in Ludlow, South Shropshire or the return of local rapid response vehicles who can be on call or based in local areas such as hospitals, GP surgeries and fire stations to attend until an ambulance arrives.
- At that meeting, Tracey called on the council to set up an inquiry to get answers from the hospital trust, from the ambulance trust, the CCG and others, and to hear views from across the county such as those Darren Childs expressed at that meeting. An inquiry would be a powerful statement from Shropshire Council that is not a passive player when the health service in our country is struggling and too often failing to deliver services that we need.
- In the week to 3 April, 72% of ambulances arriving at the RSH and PRH experienced handover delays of 30 minutes or more, compared to 27% nationally. This is one of the causes of delays in getting to new patients and transferring them to A&E, along with the distances that ambulances must often travel.
- Delays in transfer into A&E results from many problems. SaTH has difficulty in staff recruitment and retention and there has been higher than normal staff sickness in recent months. The two hospitals are often close to full bed occupancy, a situation exacerbated by delays of transfer into the care system. A&E attendances are up 13% over five years.
- This is complex web of problems which requires a dedicated inquiry with a panel of experts drawn from across the local health economy and councillors.
- We recognise that this is a major undertaking and the terms of reference will need to ensure that the inquiry is focused on the key issues. It will also require administrative resource. However, the benefits to the county and to individuals of a local health system that works efficiently are immeasurable.
- This council agrees to establish a working group to:
- a) Investigate how an inquiry might operate.
- b) To set draft objectives and terms of reference for the inquiry.
- c) To identify the organisations from which members of the inquiry would be drawn.
- d) To report its findings to Cabinet.
This Council resolves to establish a Task & Finish Group to consider the feasibility of an inquiry into ambulance delays.