Ambulance workers take to the stage as survey lays bare deaths due to delays


During the past three years, one in four ambulance workers has witnessed a death due to delays in the healthcare system, a mass GMB survey has found.

The poll of almost 3,000 ambulance workers across the UK found that: 

• 24.4% of ambulance workers had witnessed a death due to delays 

• A further third (31%) know of a case where this has happened 

• Almost half (43%) had spent an entire shift waiting outside A&E 

• 82% have suffered verbal abuse, with 33% suffering physical attacks 

• 70% have considered leaving the service in the past year 

The survey, completed by ambulance workers, control centre workers and 999 and 111 call handlers, included harrowing testimony from the front line of emergency healthcare. 

One worker described being first on the scene at a cardiac arrest, which had been coded ‘yellow’ for ten hours, to find the patient dead, in rigor mortis with the phone ringing in his hands. 

Other workers describe patients ‘regularly’ dying in hospital corridors, patients being left for ‘days’ outside in ambulances and patients being told it would be quicker for them to make their own way to hospital, and then dying en route. 

The results will be discussed at GMB’s annual congress in Bournemouth, where ambulance workers will take to the stage today (June 10). 

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, says: “These terrible, harrowing stories from our ambulance workers members lay bare the horrifying state of our NHS. 

“Fourteen years of the Conservative’s disastrous austerity experiment, rocketing demand and ambulance workers draining away from the profession has left a service barely able to cope. 

"Whoever wins the election next month, we need to properly invest in our NHS if we want to keep it alive – and that starts first and foremost by investing in the workers themselves.” 

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