Patient discovered useless with cellphone ringing in hand after 10-hour ambulance wait

A quarter of ambulance workers have witnessed a death due to delays in the past three years, a poll has found.

Almost half (43%) spent an entire shift waiting outside A&E in the past three years, while others said patients were waiting hours and hours for a vehicle to arrive, according to the GMB union survey of almost 3,000 ambulance workers. One worker described being first on the scene at a cardiac arrest to find the patient who had been waiting for 10 hours dead and in rigor mortis with the phone ringing in his hands.

Other workers described patients “regularly” dying in hospital corridors, patients being left for “days” outside in ambulances and patients being told it would be quicker for them to make their own way to hospital and then dying en route.

Staff also described facing increasing abuse with more than four in five experiencing verbal abuse, and a third suffering physical attacks, over the three-year period.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Secretary, said: “These terrible, harrowing stories from our ambulance worker members lay bare the horrifying state of our NHS. Fourteen years of the Conservative’s disastrous austerity experiment, rocketing demand and ambulance workers draining away from the profession has left a service barely able to cope.

“Whoever wins the election next month, we need to properly invest in our NHS if we want to keep it alive – and that starts first and foremost by investing in the workers themselves.”