IT is soul destroying turning up late to patients in need, says a deflated and exhausted paramedic, but demand is significantly increasing.
Sally Bottomley is a senior paramedic who has been working in the North Wales area since 2012.
She says she is seeing unprecedented demand and fears for the public and the future as she pleads with people to play their part.
She told the Leader: “The public can save the NHS from this crisis we are in. Back in the pandemic we were only going to life threatening and urgent emergencies, we weren’t going to people who couldn’t get in touch with their GP or minor injuries.
“We have a joke but this is the truth. In A&E there’s so many people who can use alternative pathways. Keep trying your GP, they are seeing patients.
“I am worried about winter, if people keep calling 999 we are going to be in trouble. We are seeing a huge demand at the moment that is incredible compared to how it has been, and we have the pandemic as well.
“It wasn’t so long ago everyone was scared of ringing us but now it’s insane. These days we are taking patients in cars because back up is a while.”
The Leader had the privilege of shadowing Sally for the day and experiencing the intense pressures she, and her colleagues, face on a daily basis.
She said: “It’s not the fault of A&E. Minor injuries isn’t publicised enough and pharmacies, they can prescribe and assess people. Going to A&E with a foot injury from two weeks ago is not an emergency. People call 999 because they know someone will always pick up the phone. It’s like banging the drum all the time.
“There are times we are needed, we are there for people. We have a broad skillset but it’s not always the case that if you need A&E you get an ambulance to take you there. You won’t be seen any quicker.
“Sometimes the wait for us is longer because of the demand and then we will only pop you in the waiting room. We queue with patients.
“The NHS hasn’t changed from this time last year. We were great at the beginning of the pandemic, only getting real emergency calls and GPs were still seeing people. The NHS was still open, but it wasn’t being used inappropriately.”
Sally said the future of the NHS is in the public’s hand as everyone has a part to play.
She added: “Keep trying your GP. There’s been a significant increase of calls that don’t warrant an ambulance. We’ve also seen a huge increase in calls relating to mental health. We are all understaffed and overstretched from community teams upwards. People need to take ownership of their own health.
“It’s soul destroying turning up to someone’s house who rang an ambulance hours ago. Everyone is deflated, it’s really frustrating.
“If we don’t act now it’s going to be horrendous, it’s already far more than we can reach at the moment. Winter is going to be awful, I don’t even want to think about it.”