Helena is running a campaign on reducing ambulance waiting times. You can sign her petition here
New figures have revealed residents in the Hastings & Rye constituency are waiting longer and longer for ambulances as a decade of NHS cuts, staff burnout and increasing health inequalities create the perfect storm.
According to new figures obtained under Freedom of Information request by Helena Dollimore, people living in Hastings, St Leonards, rural Rother and Rye wait far longer than NHS targets recommend.
For category 2 emergency call outs which include suspected strokes and heart attacks, NHS guidelines state patients should wait on average 18 minutes. Instead, people in Hastings and Rother are frequently left for almost an hour. In postcodes TN34 and TN35 the average wait was over 52 minutes. In TN31 covering the Rye area, people waited on average 56 minutes. Data shows that in contrast residents in Ashford and Brighton have average waiting times of around 26 minutes in the period from April 2021 to March 2022.
Helena said: “Last summer we had a long wait for an ambulance for my dad. While he was OK, this data shows that we were not alone and people across Hastings and Rye are waiting too long. Why should people in Hastings, St Leonards and Rye wait longer than those in Ashford or Brighton? Our local Conservative MP needs to urgently take this up with local NHS officials.”
“Residents in Hastings and Rye deserve better than what they’ve got under the Tories. Our NHS has been under-funded and under-resourced for over 12 years, leaving staff in impossible situations and people waiting too long for treatment. ”
This worrying situation is despite the constituency being more in need of services. Rates of cardiovascular disease, COPD, stroke and high blood pressure conditions are higher in Hastings & Rye than in the rest of the region and the whole of England. Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, recently highlighted the need for better health outcomes for Hastings. In his report into coastal communities, rates of emergency readmission to hospital were highlighted as being worse than the rest of England. Staff vacancy rates have only made the situation worse as NHS workers have been pushed out of their jobs due to tough times in the work place. The South East has a vacancy rate for ambulance staff that is much higher than other regions (Q2 21/22, latest data). Meanwhile, ambulance calls have almost doubled to 14 million a year since 2010, according to GMB Union’s analysis of NHS data. The South East has a vacancy rate for ambulance staff that is much higher than other regions (Q2 21/22, latest data). Meanwhile, ambulance calls have almost doubled to 14 million a year since 2010, according to GMB Union’s analysis of NHS data. On top of this, ambulance staff face increasing abuse while doing their jobs.
Jason Dicker, GMB SECAMB Branch Secretary said:
“The data Helena has collected is not a surprise to GMB. Our members have seen the impact of national government funding cuts to the ambulance service in Hastings and Rye and have continued to argue for more funding from the government to ensure a more consistent service delivery for all regardless of where in the region someone lives.
“Our members working in the service see day in day out the impact of these funding cuts and despite their best efforts know there will be an impact on service users. We continue to call for more government funding for the ambulance service across the board so that that our members can provide the level of support they joined the service to deliver.”