Essex Police Used As Paramedics 185 Times

Police Chiefs Believe They Are Covering For An Over-Stretched Ambulance Service


Police chiefs in Essex have revealed they took patients to hospitals on 185 occasions in 2013.

This is despite the fact that police cars only carry a basic first aid kit and could not properly deal with complications arising on the way to an A&E department, as well as the fact that constables are only given basic medical training.

A Freedom of Information request from the BBC revealed the statistics, where it was also shown that 121 incidents were recorded as having "excessive delays", while a further 83 calls were described as inappropriate by Essex Police.

The East of England Ambulance Service admitted it needs more staff to be able to cope with demand - something that is made worse by the region's rural population bias, which means travel distances for ambulances are further than in more urbanised areas.

Mark Smith, chairman of the Essex Police Federation, said that on many occasions emergency responders request help because of concerns about violent people at the scenes of accidents, but these often don't warrant the attendance of an officer.

"This has been going on for more than a year now and those who can change it, haven't. We are talking about people who really need to go to hospital, such as those involved in very serious road traffic accidents," Mr Smith added.

These concerns were shared by Tony Hughes, GMB union ambulance organiser for the eastern region, who said: "Our members don't tell us about it that often because it's embarrassing for them, having to rely on police officers."

A spokesperson for Essex Police commented it is concerned about increasing demand from the ambulance service, which is adding to its already problematic capacity issues.

The representative added that it has seen these types of incidents in the last 12 months.

Officials at the East of England Ambulance Service have consistently complained about a lack of staff.

In 2013, Norman Lamb, a local MP, campaigned for response times to improve after a resident was forced to wait for more than 90 minutes for an ambulance to take him to hospital. The 26-year-old later died at Norwich University Hospital.

Expert Opinion
It is vital that those who need emergency treatment are able to get access to the support they need and, while there is no doubt that the police do an excellent job, this often means they need specialist medical treatment on the scene from trained paramedics.

"Patient safety should always come first and the only way to ensure that people are getting the best attention when they need it is by ensuring ambulance services are able to operate to meet the requirements of their local areas.

"Hopefully the concerns raised regarding staffing can be addressed as soon as possible to ensure this issue is addressed quickly."
Lisa Jordan, Partner