GPs are being forced to dial 999 to get poorly patients to hospital even when a less urgent response would be sufficient, it has been said.
Dr Tony Burgess, of Great Massingham and Docking Practice, told fellow members of West Norfolk’s Care Commissioning Group the situation arose because anything less than a 999 request could mean hours of waiting.
He said: “GPs are frequently calling a blue light when the patient doesn’t really need it because we want to get them to hospital in a timely fashion.”
Dr Burgess said he’d had one case where he had asked for a non-urgent transfer and six hours later his patient was still waiting at home, at a meeting in Lynn last week.
He said there was a need to get back to a time when doctors were able to request an ambulance to make a transfer in a specified time period of, for example, one hour or three hours, to avoid having to dial 999.
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Our performance improvement plan set high priorities for the service, including more ambulances and more paramedics, so that patients get a better response and better care. Already this year, we’ve recruited more than 200 student paramedics, and started to introduce additional ambulances and replace older ones.
“Whilst we are beginning to see improvements, we recognise that our GPs are still facing long waits for their patients, and we’re working with them to help identify when and where this happens, and reduce any negative impact on patient care.”