Safety fears over Worthing ambulance station night cuts

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PATIENTS’ lives will be put at risk by changes being made to ambulance services in Worthing, according to one worker.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SECAmb) employee, whose name we are not revealing for fear they will lose their job, said they were concerned the changes would put the safety of people in our town who called an ambulance in the middle of the night at risk.

According to the worker, SECAmb plans to dramatically slash the number of ambulances working from the ambulance station in Yeoman Road, Worthing, between the hours of 2am and 6am.

The worker said there were currently four ambulances, one critical care ambulance unit (used for only the highest-level emergency calls) and one response car, all on call during the night.

Frontline jobs

It is believed the changes will see the number of vehicles cut to just one ambulance, one critical care ambulance unit and one response car on call between those hours.

It will also see employees’ shift patterns revised to accommodate the changes, although it is not thought there would be any redundancies, as SECAmb said it was “committed to protecting frontline jobs”.

The worker said the changes had been on the cards for a few months, but that the details were still being finalised.

They also said: “Everybody is worried about the risk to patients – it could put their lives at risk.

“Sometimes we can’t even cope with the numbers we have now. There is just not going to be enough cover between these hours.

“People are going to be ill”

“In the night, people often feel they have no other option but to call an ambulance, as out-of-hours GPs can take hours to come.

“They looked at things, and found these are the quietest hours, but you can’t predict when people are going to be ill.

“We have had shifts when at 5am, we’re all at Worthing Hospital on calls.”

The employee added: “It is our NHS and I think the public deserve to know what is going on.”

The worker suggested the extra ambulances and crews who had been working during the night would be redeployed to shifts during the day, in a bid to help the station meet target response times as set out by the government.

Meet demand

The Herald put the worker’s claims to SECAmb, and a spokesperson released this statement to us: “SECAmb is currently undertaking a rota review which ensures we are best placed to meet the needs our patients.

“As part of this review, SECAmb plans to increase the number emergency vehicles available overnight in Sussex from 41 to 43.

“The aim of the review is to ensure that we have the right number of resources to meet the demand that is placed upon us.

“Technology has allowed us to forecast with greater accuracy when and where our patients will need our services.”

The SECAmb statement continued to state more ambulances were needed during the day and fewer in the early morning.

It added that 30 per cent of people calling an ambulance do not go to hospital, but there was a need to have more paramedics in response cards to deal with these emergencies.