We have been told in the news that we are likely to face longer ambulance waiting times in an emergency, and the impression given to the media by the NHS authorities is that this is due to a huge demand for the service.
But is this entirely true? Or is it a matter, as I believe, of one hand not telling the other what it is doing?
Locally, our nearest hospital's A&E has been closed. The distance from my home to this hospital is about 5 miles as compared with some 16 or so miles to what is now the nearest A&E. So however you look at it, many journey times are going to be at least three times longer than what they were last year. Not only that, but the old A&E was within a few hundred yards of the bus station, so for the "walking wounded" it was always possible to catch a local bus. Contrary wise, to get to the new A&E, you first have to catch a bus to the bus station and then the once an hour bus to the alternate hospital.
So it follows, that not only will there now be more users of the ambulance service, but each call will take considerably longer to complete, and will, of course cost more as well as putting the patient at risk for far longer than previously.
The local NHS Trust closed the local A&E to save money, and it is possible that this might be achieved because as far as I can ascertain there have been no improvements at the "new" A&E to cope with the additional work load.
The ambulances are run by a separate Trust; they will of course now have to spend far more if they are to provide the same service as before; ambulances are having to travel further which in itself will cost more and if they are to provide the same level of response, there will need to be probably twice the number available as required previously.
This seems typical of the Civil Service style of management which I experienced when I was working; Do everything possible to reduce your departmental costs and don't worry if your actions increase the costs of some other department, that's their worry, not yours!
Finally, a short story about a friend who was taken to the hospital following a bad fall when she twisted her ankle and banged her head, and in view of her age they decided to keep her in overnight for "observation". In the morning, she phoned another mutual friend and asked him to come and collect her. "Are you mobile?", he asked. "Yes, I am b***** mobile, I've been lying on a trolley all night and have been pushed from one place to another every few minutes, get me home so that I can have some sleep".
This is our "best in the world" NHS.