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January 14, 2011

UK paper reveals a string of serious ambulance incidents

By Tom Moseley
Lancashire Telegraph

LANCASHIRE, England — A string of lapses by ambulance staff — including a patient who was locked in the back of a vehicle and left at the station - have been revealed.

The Lancashire Telegraph has obtained a list of 'serious untoward incidents' recorded by the North West Ambulance Service.

The ambulance trust said each of the 30 incidents, which took place over the past two years, were thoroughly investigated.

They include:

  • A patient kept waiting at A&E for more than three hours, needing extra treatment as a result.
  • Four road traffic collisions, including one that meant a police officer had to drive the ambulance back to the hospital.
  • A patient who had appendicitis, but was first wrongly diagnosed with swine flu and given Tamiflu.
  • One ambulance that caught fire on the way to an emergency.
  • Attacks on ambulance staff, including one incident that led to a prisoner escaping during a transfer.

One of the most striking cases involved a patient who was supposed to be transferred from a renal unit to a hospital at 7.15pm — but was found at midnight in the back of an ambulance that had been parked back at the station for the night.

The trust, which released the list under the Freedom of Information Act, would not provide more information on each incident, saying this would take too long to compile.

The data shows a drop in the number of serious incidents from 21 in 2009 to nine in 2010.

The ambulance service's Unison representative, Craig Wilde, said: "We treat each of these incidents very seriously and need to make sure they don't happen again."

Deborah Bullock, head of clinical safety, said the trust was the largest in the country so had the largest number of untoward incidents.

She added: "It is not always possible to prevent an untoward incident; however it is trust policy to learn from all incidents to ensure that reasonably practicable measures are implemented to prevent reoccurrence."

Copyright 2011 NewsQuest Media Group Limited

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