- By Patrick Russell: ITV News
Patients are dying needlessly every day because ambulances are taking too long to respond to emergency calls, a paramedic has told ITV News.
Speaking anonymously, the paramedic turned whistleblower said he had witnessed four people die in front of him this year alone due to delays.
He spoke of a profession in crisis, warning that he and his colleagues are buckling under the increasing physical and emotional toll of the job.
"We are so stretched; there's not enough ambulances; not enough staff and people die," he says.
"We [paramedics] all see it on a daily basis: people are dying in front of us. Our job is to help people and prevent that happening but we just can't."
It comes as an ITV News investigation reveals that patients in the most gravest emergencies are being forced to wait hours for ambulance crews to arrive.
The paramedic spoke harrowingly of recent cases where he believes patients could have been saved - including one who bled to death while waiting 45 minutes for an ambulance.
He also revealed that an elderly woman, injured in a fall, had been waiting five hours before he was able to get to her.
"As soon as we moved her, she went into cardiac arrest and passed away - it just made me feel like what's the point of doing this job."
Staff shortages and long shifts combined with the emotional pressure of providing life-saving care was having a "demoralising" impact on the workforce, he said.
"Sometimes I get back home and feel like not coming back to work. I want to make a difference but what's the point?
"Some staff drink alcohol, stress rates go up and mental health issues are widespread."
The paramedic, who has been working for the NHS for 10 years, is now considering his future in the health service.
"We signed up to this job to help people but it's got to the point where we are constantly so late to reach the most critical patients that by the time we get there, there's nothing we can do - that's demoralising," he says.
"This is not what we signed up for."
He added: "Something needs to be done. We can't keep on doing what we are doing because it is failing."