GP had to take girl, 6, to hospital in a taxi when ambulance did not arrive

  • Dr Lucy Pocock retells the moment she had to take a girl to hospital in a taxi

A GP in Bristol had to take a six-year-old girl struggling to breathe to hospital in a taxi after an ambulance failed to show up.

Dr Lucy Pocock told ITV News West Country pressure on the NHS is the worst she has seen it in her 12-year career.

She says she is now worried not only for her patients, but also for her loved-ones.

“Very recently I was required to call an ambulance for a sick child who had breathing problems," she said.

"I called an ambulance at 4.45pm for a child and put them on oxygen while we waited - and at 9pm the ambulance still hadn’t arrived.

"In the end myself and one of my nursing colleagues actually took the child to hospital in a taxi ourselves."

She said neither her or her colleague are trained in managing the deterioration of a patient during transport to a hospital.

"I don’t have any training in that at all," she said. "I’m not indemnified or insured to provide that care.”

South Western Ambulance Service has recorded the worst response times in the country.

Ambulances queue outside the BRI. Credit: BPM Media/Bristol Live

Dr Pocock said she believes the problem is with the "flow" through the hospital, saying there is a "huge number" of patients hospitals cannot discharge back to their homes or the community because of a lack of social care.

She added: "I also want to say that this problem hasn't been quick in the making. This has been coming for the past 10 years.

"I'm worried for my patients and I'm also worried for my loved-ones. What happens if any one of us needed an ambulance and had to wait six or seven hours for the right care? Or deteriorated in the back of an ambulance? I can't even imagine it."

In a statement, South Western Ambulance Service apologised and said they are experiencing the highest-ever level of sustained demand.

"Our response times are directly affected by the time it takes us to handover patients into busy hospital emergency departments which is longer than we have ever seen before," they said.

"We are losing many more hours compared with recent years which causes our ambulances to queue outside hospitals and unable to respond to other patients and has an inevitable impact on the service we can provide.

"We are sorry that this means people are waiting longer than we would expect."

They said it is an "absolute priority" for them and other NHS partners to find a solution before thanking staff for their "commitment, focus and compassion" during what they described as a "very difficult" time.