Ambulance delays for life-threatening calls reached a new record high in December, shocking new NHS figures have revealed.
When there is a real shortage of ambulance drivers and patients suffering in pain and distress, it is staggering that the Government has not tackled the backlog of NHS paramedics waiting for vital training.
The Liberal Democrats submitted a Freedom of Information request to NHS ambulance Trusts across England, asking how many staff are currently waiting to complete C1 and Blue Light driving courses. The data show that more than 700 NHS staff across the country are currently waiting to complete a C1 driving course. 630 staff are on the waiting list to complete a Blue Light driving course.
Ambulance drivers are required to complete C1 training to drive a vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes - these courses can cost around £1,000 and paramedics are required to pay for it themselves in most cases. Paramedics also do a Blue Light training course which is considered the gold standard for emergency response drivers.
This is adding serious pressure on our frontline emergency workers.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to address the backlog by bringing forward a plan to recruit more specialist driving instructors and assessors, as well as covering the cost of ambulance driver training.
Earlier this year, the Lib Dems revealed that 43,000 people died before an ambulance reached them. Recent figures have also shown almost 500 NHS patients suffered permanent or long-term harm due to emergency response delays.
The Conservatives are asleep at the wheel, while patients struggle to access emergency treatment. Ministers need to get a grip on the situation, starting by bringing forward a plan to recruit more specialist driving instructors and assessors, as well as covering the cost of ambulance driver training so that paramedics can jump into action as soon as they graduate.