Police transport patients to hospital as ambulance services buckle

·1-min read
Demand for emergency ambulances hit a record high in June (PA)
Demand for emergency ambulances hit a record high in June (PA)

Police officers are attending to mental health patients and people having cardiac arrests as ambulance services buckle under increased demand.

It’s reducing police ability to fight crime, the national lead for local policing said.

Officers should not be a “first resort” in these situations, it stressed.

Police officers are spending up to a third of their time on non-policing callouts, the Independent reports.

Demand for emergency ambulances hit a record high with the NHS answering 900,000 urgent calls this June. The average response time for category two patients, which include those suffering strokes and heart attacks, was 51 minutes. The target is 18 minutes.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said officers were having to transport patients to hospital to help out, and sometimes wait for hours in A&E.

National lead for local policing, Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney, told the Standard it “reduces the police ability to fight crime and protect people in all the wider ways we should”.

“We can often be the service of last resort, and officers will always be willing to step in. Preservation of life will always be our number one priority when helping someone in need,” she explained.

“We are working at pace with our emergency service partners, local authorities and government to ensure this problem can be solved, but we should not be the service of first resort in these situations.”

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives told the Independent that police transporting patients to hospitals was “not a desirable situation”.

Managing director Martin Flaherty said: “It is clearly not in the best interests of patients, it puts police officers in an incredibly difficult position and it absorbs valuable police resources.”

Met Police and London Ambulance Services have been approached for comment.