LETTER: NHS mess needs to be sorted out

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As former Senior Chaplain to, but independent of, the South East Coast Ambulance Service, I am both bemused and appalled that you should have given so much valuable space to the ‘forensic report’ carried out by Deloitte on the SE Coast Ambulance Service (County Times May 5).

True the issues you raise are very important; true the service fell short in that the double triage pilot scheme was handled in the wrong way, as has been admitted by the Acting CEO, BUT without it the service probably wouldn’t have coped - given the extraordinarily heavy demands made on it during those winter months.

It is worth making three points: firstly, that that system put in place was welcomed by frontline staff who were rushed off their feet, and who often had to work an extra two hours or more on top of their 12 hour shift.

Secondly that, had the proper protocols been followed by the CEO, permission to work in the way they did would have taken weeks if not months to be given – by which time the emergency situation which led to the double triage would have passed. Thirdly, that the ambulance service is grossly underfunded.

Year on year the demands on SECAmb increase by approximately 11 per cent - and this is by no means matched by additional funding.

If the service is to work properly there needs to be an increase in frontline staff on duty over the whole 24 hour period, and in the Emergency Control Centres, plus an increase in vehicles. Further, the A & E Departments at the receiving hospitals need additional funding for more staff and more beds to cope with the additional demands made on their service.

In short, as has been mentioned so many times in the media, the NHS is in a mess, and desperately needs to be sorted out.

The Rev FRANCIS POLE

Turnpike Place, Crawley

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