Heart attack patients in Gloucestershire taken to hospital by police amid ambulance shortages

Ambulance waits
Credit: ITV West Country

Police in Gloucestershire have been taking people who have suffered from heart attacks to A&E when ambulances cannot attend.

The region's police and crime commissioner Chris Nelson confirmed that Gloucestershire Constabulary are helping to ease the pressure on the ambulance service by responding to emergency calls.

Speaking at a police and crime panel, he said: "Although in theory, the hospitals, mental health and patients are not our direct responsibility. It’s the police that are having to take people who are having heart attacks to hospital and the ambulances won’t come.

“Police officers have to take them to hospital, take them directly into A&E, and jump the queue so that that person having a heart attack can get immediate treatment. It’s dreadful, some of the stories that I hear.”

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is aware of one specific incident where an ambulance was asked to stand down by police who conveyed the patient to hospital. This is not regular practice, according to them.

A spokesperson for SWASFT said the whole health and social care system has been under sustained pressure for many months now, meaning patients are having to wait longer for an ambulance than they would expect.

“Our performance has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, partly due to handover delays caused by capacity issues in hospitals, and in community and social care. This means it’s currently taking us too long to get an ambulance to patients.

“We continue to work on a daily basis with our partners to ensure our crews can get back out on the road as quickly as possible, to respond to other 999 calls.”

Credit: Carmelo Garcia, Local Democracy Reporter