The ambulance service is possibly one of the most abused and misused aspects of healthcare along with A&E
To prove my point lets look at some of the users of this service (names have been changed):
Rose is a stroke survivor in her eighties thanks in part due to the speedy service of EMAS and the subsequent treatment at Boston Pilgrim hospital. As she recovered an excellent care and rehabilitation package enabled her to return home to her husband James, who reluctantly accepted the initial help given. As time passed and the need for support reduced the care package fell away. However, there was no subsequent effective or regular review of those needs other than occassional telephone contact. Rose has several needs and has experienced several falls resulting in the ambulance service being called, luckily without significant injury. However, despite concerns being flagged by ambulance/hospital the GP's have not reviewed her face to face. This is made all the harder by James desire not to accept help or assistance to the negligence of both his own and her well-being. This has resulted in more ambulance call outs than would otherwise have been necessary. In such a way, the patient, their carer and the GP have abused the service through their own neglect.
Richard, again in Spalding, had a heart attack. Upon his discharge he was advised to monitor his blood pressure using his own device. If his blood pressure went outside certain parameters he was to refer to his GP. This he duly did and when it was too high he tried to phone his doctor, but could not get through. Living near the surgery he called in with his wife and explained his predicament to the receptionist. The receptionist, who no doubt considers herself a clinical expert, responded, " That is not our doctors job. You will have to go to A&E or call an ambulance. " I spoke to Richard after this and he was in tears.
Nora lives in Spalding and suffers from a long term mental health illness that can be managed well with medication and monitoring. However, if something goes wrong or she fails to take her medication she can suffer psychotic events that can be dangerous to herself and others. It was during one of these events that I phoned Grantham mental health support to be advised that as it was a Saturday there was no emergency cover for Spalding area at weekends. Sadly it was only after multiple police and ambulance calls by various people that she got her help. Now it has to be noted that her illness can be managed provided she is monitored. Repeated attempts to withdraw her support always resulted in multiple police and ambulance calls outs. Sadly a further person in the same street has had a similar experience with lack of support resulting in psychosis and chaotic behaviour resulting in police and ambulance being called out whereby this was subsequently prevented when appropriate mental health support and monitoring was given.
My point is with these examples is that when ambulance workers, or nurses for that matter, go on strike it is about so much more than pay. It is about a general frustration with not being listened to or valued. It is about not being able to supply the service they wish to supply. The reason I come to this conclusion is that every picket line I see has posters that mention many things but very few are about pay.
Perhaps one poster sums up the problem, "Accident and Emergency. Not Anything and Everything."