Two thirds of ambulances stranded outside Northampton A&E

The Accident and Emergency entrance at Northampton General Hospital which has been sealed off.
The Accident and Emergency entrance at Northampton General Hospital which has been sealed off.

TWO-THIRDS of the ambulances assigned to cover the south of the county were stranded outside A&E at Northampton General Hospital on another busy day for the overloaded emergency department, a patient has claimed.

Tom Peterkin, of Hackleton, followed his partner to NGH where she was taken by ambulance after suffering chest pains.

However on arrival, he saw a total of six patients, including his partner, on trolleys with paramedic crews and who could not be handed over to overrun A&E staff.

Mr Peterkin said: “The paramedic told us there were nine ambulances on duty for the Northampton area at the time, so that was two thirds of the available crews unable to go anywhere. They were monitoring us, which was the right thing to do, but it was ridiculous that she was taking up their trolley and equipment so they couldn’t go to another 999 call.

“There were even St John Ambulance volunteers there with patients, so that shows you how busy the ambulance service must have been.

“Who is responding to emergencies when they are stood around through no fault of their own?”

The problem of “stacking” patients on trolleys in NGH corridors was first publicly acknowledged last year at an inquest, where a consultant admitted the practice happened regularly because staff could not deal with the volume of patients arriving at A&E.

Ambulance chiefs also revealed in December last year that on a particular day in 2011 there were queues of ambulances outside East Midlands A&E departments totalling 1.6 miles.

Mr Peterkin’s partner was admitted last Monday, traditionally the busiest day of the week for emergency doctors as people often injure themselves at the weekend then present to the hospital a day or two later when they realise they cannot go to work.

East Midlands Ambulance Service yesterday admitted six ambulances were at A&E at one time on that day but pointed out that there were also several fast response cars, which carry a single paramedic. on duty. EMAS has for years sub-contracted St John Ambulance staff for 999 calls at busy periods.

Mr Peterkin, whose partner has now recovered, said: “They ought to have more hospital staff whose job it is to take on the patient and release the ambulance crew. It seems like a problem caused by a growing population. Surely this should have been seen and planned for a long time ago.”