The NHS is facing a triple threat this winter with Covid, flu and norovirus pushing services to the brink of total shutdown.
With Covid cases surging, some hospitals are already warning an ambulance may not be the quickest way to get help in an emergency. Patients have been asked to drive or take a taxi to the hospital instead of calling 999.
Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said hospitals are running out of space for those patients who make it. He added: “We are short of about 14,000 beds across the NHS.”
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All ambulance trusts have now been placed on the highest possible “black alert”. The average response time for heart attack and stroke victims was 51 minutes in June, compared to a target of 18 minutes.
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has warned patients to only call 999 as a “last resort” after trying other ways of getting medical help.
A spokesman said: “If you arrive at the hospital in an ambulance, it doesn’t mean you’ll receive priority over patients who arrive by car or taxi.
"If you don’t require life-saving clinicians and equipment on your way to the hospital, please make your own way.”
Meanwhile many UK defibrillators have been left out of action by a global shortage of components like batteries and microchips.
For cardiac arrest victims, every minute counts before they receive a lifesaving electric shock to the heart.
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Their only hope is defibrillator treatment – but hundreds of Britain’s 100,000 units are now out of service due to supply chain issues.
Meanwhile, reports claim that the NHS is wasting time and money due to a “culture of overtreatment” in cancer care, a report has revealed.
An All-Party Parliamentary Group paper released today, on minimally invasive cancer treatments (MICTs), found only 10% of cancer patients are offered non-invasive treatments.
This is despite many of these treatments being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
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