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The Secret 999 Policy Not To Send Ambulances To The Terminally Ill

January 15, 2015

I’m absolutely shocked. Why isn’t this front page news?

To someone who campaigns based on the belief that every life is equally valuable, this is just simply heartbreaking.

More than 50 patients have died after an NHS trust introduced a secret policy to downgrade 999 calls and not to send ambulances to terminally ill patients.

Managers at East of England ambulance trust were accused of “the most cruel form of rationing imaginable” after admitting that 8,000 patients had been affected by the changes.

An internal NHS report discloses that 57 patients died after their calls were downgraded following a decision not to send ambulances to the terminally ill and to those who had given instructions not to resuscitate.

It meant that, instead of receiving a response from paramedics in eight minutes, people reporting life-threatening illnesses were given a call back up to 20 minutes later, or had to wait up to an hour for an ambulance.

The policy was in place for two months before staff raised concerns that patients suffering cardiac arrests were being left to die.

The alarm was raised with senior managers last February and the policy was immediately suspended. However, details of the practice have only now emerged in an internal NHS document.

It discloses that 21 types of call were downgraded. The ambulance trust said the changes were made by call centre managers without the approval of senior management, and were reversed when concerns were raised.

In the Commons, Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary said the failings were evidence of a “staggering” crisis in ambulance services.

“While focus has been on A&E it is becoming clear that the knock-on crisis in the ambulance service is more serious than people realised,” he told the Commons.

“Evidence is emerging of services unilaterally abandoning national standards and putting patients at risk.”

Calling on Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, to order a full independent investigation into the actions of the East of England trust, he said: “Withholding ambulances from terminally ill people is the most cruel form of rationing imaginable.”

Mr Hunt said that, nationally, the ambulance service was performing well despite great pressures.

The service was dealing with a 25 per cent increase in the most serious calls in a year, with a 22 per cent increase in ambulances despatched within eight minutes, he pointed out.

Accusing Mr Burnham of “trying to weaponise the NHS”, he said: “That is a record of an ambulance service doing very well under a lot of pressure and I just say to you, you should be getting behind the paramedics and the ambulance services and not trying to politicise the issue.”

The trust said the changes meant 28 types of call had their level of response changed, with seven given a higher priority response, while 21 were downgraded.

A spokesman said: “An investigation, led by an external expert, was immediately launched and the changes reversed once chief executive Anthony Marsh was alerted to the issue.”

He added that an investigation had examined half of the 999 calls affected by the unauthorised action, and not identified any harm to patients.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. jeffrey davies permalink
    January 15, 2015 5:25 pm

    its shamefull the reply from hunt isnt it but the torys way of culling the stock once again jeff3

  2. January 15, 2015 6:24 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  3. collectivismsucks permalink
    January 15, 2015 6:25 pm

    This government and their corporate fiends are murderers.

  4. January 15, 2015 7:01 pm

    Reblogged this on lawrencerowntree.

  5. January 15, 2015 10:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  6. January 16, 2015 1:45 am

    Reblogged this on Lindas Blog and commented:
    Is this the kind of change to protocols likely to become more prevalent as the grip of Tory policies take a firmer hold should they succeed to grab another 5 years of power and control in dismantling public services and the welfare state?!
    I could not dream this up!

  7. January 18, 2015 4:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs.

  8. January 18, 2015 4:29 pm

    Reblogged this on

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