Capacity to handle 999 calls at risk, warns London ambulance service

From The Guardian: Britain’s busiest NHS ambulance service may no longer be able to answer all 999 calls quickly enough because its control rooms are chronically short of call handlers, it has warned.

The London ambulance service (LAS) disclosed this week that its capacity to respond to medical emergencies has been under threat because of a 20% shortfall in its control room staff.

Campaigners for patients have voiced alarm over the findings, saying the risk to the service could lead to people dying of strokes or heart attacks because an ambulance has taken longer than it should to reach them.

The Patients Association said the LAS’s inability to recruit enough staff posed a direct threat to patients.

“The London ambulance service appears to be saying that it is likely that it will be unable to respond properly to medical emergencies due to a lack of staff. This is hugely worrying, but also the logical end point of underfunding the NHS over a sustained period,” said Rachel Power, its chief executive.

“The consequences for someone having a stroke or heart attack, for example, don’t bear thinking about. Lives are being put at risk as a direct result of political choices.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]