Joining an ambulance shift in Wycombe


Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in an ambulance shift in High Wycombe so I could see firsthand what the journey is like for patients. It’s not comfortable.

We saw four cases, zipping up and down West Wycombe Road, but we were not dispatched to Stoke Mandeville. The morning’s cases were all treated in Wycombe. One would have had to go to Aylesbury under the proposed arrangements.

Our ambulance services are run by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) who were established after a 2006 merger of ambulance trusts from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. They cover 3,554 sq miles with a residential population of over four million and each year their centres handle around half a million emergency and urgent calls.

SCAS’s main functions are to provide an accident and emergency service to respond to 999 calls as well as a Patient Transport Service which takes patients to and from their hospital appointments. They aim to treat more patients in their homes and prevent unnecessary trips to hospital.

In addition, they are running a Misuse Cost Lives campaign that informs the public that 40% of the 999 calls they receive are from patients who do not need to go to hospital. They explain that an ambulance should only be called for medical emergencies, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Severe breathing difficulty
  • Severe blood loss
  • Suspected stroke
  • Choking
  • Blacking out

You can watch their shocking campaign video below:

In March, SCAS became a Foundation Trust. The Trust is looking for the public to become members to ensure views have an influence on how SCAS’s service is provided. It is voluntary and free of charge or obligation.

You can learn more about becoming a member here.

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