Ambulance calls almost double but paramedics ‘leaving in droves’

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A total of 7,034 patients were in hospital as of 8am on May 11, down 21% week-on-week, according to NHS England (Jacob King/PA) (PA Archive)
A total of 7,034 patients were in hospital as of 8am on May 11, down 21% week-on-week, according to NHS England (Jacob King/PA) (PA Archive)

The number of ambulance calls in England have almost doubled since 2010 while paramedics are “leaving in the droves”, figures show.

Data from the GMB union revealed that there were 7.9 million calls from 2010 to 2011. However, this figure rose to 14 million by 2021 to 2022 – an increase of 77 per cent.

During the same period, the number of ambulance workers has jumped by just seven per cent amid fears of a staffing shortage.

The union said more than 1,000 ambulance workers have left their jobs since 2018 to seek a better work-life balance, more pay, or to take early retirement.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said ambulance workers had faced “more than a decade of cuts”.

She said: “Ambulance workers have faced more than a decade of cuts while demand has almost doubled. It’s no wonder they are leaving in droves while the service itself is teetering on the brink of collapse.

“The explosion in demand is due to savage cuts to essential services since 2010. GMB members tell us the pressures they face are the worst they have ever experienced.

“Our members face unbelievable stress and even abuse while they do their best to administer care and save lives.

“We need urgent investment across the health and care services, otherwise we risk an unprecedented crisis.”

It comes as waiting times for people suffering strokes, chest pains and other emergencies have tripled in less than two years.

Average callouts for Category 2 calls in July 2020 were under 17 minutes.

In 2021 they reached 22 minutes. However, by April 2021 the figure shot up to 51 minutes despite a target time of 18.

A spokesperson for the Department of Heath and Social Care said: “Response times are affected by various factors, so we’re taking a whole-system approach,” they said.

“The NHS has allocated £150m of additional system funding to address pressure on ambulance services, and we are tackling the Covid backlog by setting up surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres – over 90 of which are already open and have delivered over a million additional checks.

“NHS staff received a 3% pay rise last year, increasing nurses’ pay by about £1,000 on average despite a public sector pay freeze, and we are giving NHS workers another pay rise this year.”

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