Bolton's ambulances are dangerous because crews don't have time to carry out safety checks, paramedic claims
THE ambulance service is at “breaking point” and paramedics do not have time to carry out vital safety checks on vehicles, according to a whistleblower.
The warning comes after an ambulance wheel came off when it was taking a pensioner and his wife to the Royal Bolton Hospital — the second incident of its kind to happen in the town since 2012.
Yet, bosses from the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) say it is the responsibility of the crews to make sure all of the safety checks are carried out.
At the start of a shift, crews are required to perform what is known as a red check on their vehicle.
This includes checks of medical equipment, drug supplies and basic vehicle checks, including wheel pointer alignments, and should take no more than 10 minutes.
But the anonymous member of staff says paramedics do not have enough time to carry out the red checks due to staff shortages and the high volume of calls.
The whistleblower said: “We’re getting sent straight out on jobs.
“The pressure on the service is at breaking point and a member of the public is going to get killed if this carries on.
“We have to fill out an incident report forms every time something goes wrong on a shift.
“We are filling out these once a shift because we don’t have time to check the vehicles and there are more and more incidents.
“A lot of people have taken voluntary redundancy so we don’t have enough staff and we don’t have enough vehicles.
“I’d say the service is at breaking point. For five years this has been happening. Morale is ridiculously low at the moment.”
NWAS bought in new safety measures after a wheel fell off an ambulance in Tonge Moor Road in January, 2012, as crews took an 81-year-old woman to hospital following a fall.
Each ambulance wheel is now fitted with yellow wheel nut pointers which indicates whether they are loose.
But on September 21 this year, a wheel spun off when taking an elderly couple to the Royal Bolton — prompting another investigation by NWAS.
The ambulance had its blue lights and siren on as it took Richard Greenhalgh, aged 79, to the Royal Bolton Hospital with chest pains.
The emergency vehicle was travelling along Victoria Road, Heaton, when its back twin wheels fell off — causing it to tilt and swerve around the corner.
Mr Greenhalgh’s wife, Margaret, aged 74, who was with her husband in the ambulance, suffered bruising to her chest and back in the crash and also ended up in A&E.
Mr Greenhalgh has since been discharged from hospital, but the family are understood to be taking legal action against NWAS.
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