OVERWORKED paramedics are having to attend emergencies without checking their ambulances are road-safe and correctly stocked, a furious paramedic has revealed.
An experienced paramedic has claimed staff at the North West Ambulance Service are being forced to put lives at risk by not being given time to check that vehicles are carrying the right stock before attending an emergency, a claim that the service has strongly denied.
The Bolton-based whistleblower, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, also claimed paramedics are being made to go for eight hours without any meal breaks because of a lack of staff and increasing numbers of calls.
He said: “Two nights on shift we have been sent out without being allowed time to check our vehicle has the right equipment in or that the ambulance is even road-safe.
"We just get given the keys from a previous crew and get sent out immediately — if we are picking up an unmanned vehicle, then we get 10 minutes.
"If it has been manned then we don’t get any time to check it at all.”
“One night we were so busy we ran the ambulance until it was literally out of fuel — we haven’t got enough staff and if we are further reduced then I can’t see how a lot of people won’t die.”
Ambulance bosses said checks were separated into categories red, amber and green and that all crews should perform a red check at the start of their shift, which includes checks of medical equipment, drug supplies and basic vehicle checks, including wheel pointer alignments.
A spokesman added: “It is estimated a red check should take no more than 10 minutes.
“If the vehicle has been operational on the previous shift and is allocated an emergency at the time of handover, we would expect crews to perform the check as soon as is practicably possible, for example, after handing over their first patient into the care of the hospital.”
In response to the claims about meal breaks, the service said: “All attempts are made to dine crews within a three to six-hour window of their shift start.
“If this is not possible due to the high number of life-threatening calls, then a vehicle is removed from operational service after six hours to ensure the crew is adequately rested.”
But unions said budget cuts meant staff were being pushed to do more and more.
Craig Wilde, Unison branch secretary for the North West Ambulance Service said: “They may not say it is recurrent, but we think this funding has got to carry on.
"We simply cannot afford to reduce our current service so we are calling for the funding to continue.”