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Fed: Ambulance Cuts ‘Are Hitting Police’

Staff association voices concern over increasing numbers of officers taking people to hospital

Concerned Police Federation officials have called on the government to address resourcing issues affecting the emergency services after it was revealed that officers in one force are conveying people to hospital on a daily basis.

Steve Williams, national Chairman of the staff association, said that – at a time when police resources are “stretched to near capacity” – further cuts to the emergency services are creating an additional burden.

He urged input from the government about how to address the issue going forward.

Mr Williams told reporters: “We are noticing that the need for police to respond to emergency ambulance calls is no longer an isolated one.

“This is concerning at a time where resources for the police are stretched to near capacity.

“Let me be clear – the police will continue to respond to those who need us as soon as possible, and if this means responding when the ambulance service is unable to do so, then we will support our partners and the public.

“However, there remains a wider point here for government and the emergency services in terms of the risk in not addressing the resourcing issue and wider public safety concerns.”

Essex Police Federation has reported that officers are taking members of the public to hospital on a daily basis due to lengthy response delays from the East of England Ambulance Service resulting from funding cuts. The service has to make £50 million of savings from its budget over the next five years.

Chairman of the Fed branch board Mark Smith told PoliceOracle.com that, in one case, an officer conveyed a pregnant woman who had been assaulted to hospital after discovering it would take four hours for an ambulance to arrive.

He said: “We are very concerned about the knock-on effects on officers of conveying someone to hospital.

“If a person unfortunately dies, that officer could be placed on restricted duty or suspended while the IPCC gets involved and an investigation into the matter is carried out – this would cause unnecessary worry for officers for months.

“We have basic life support training and will do our best to keep people alive until paramedics arrive.

“Our officers are stuck between a rock and a hard place – they are not going to let someone down and leave them but they need to know they are supported.”

Mr Smith stressed the blame should not lay with the paramedics but with the government who sanctioned such sweeping cuts to the emergency services.

While he understood chief officer meetings have taken place in some forces to discuss this issue, he believed they must communicate their support to rank-and-file officers.

Mr Smith added: “There is not a lot that can be done about this from the Police Service as it is an issue for the ambulance service, however, there should be communication with officers to show they have the support there.

“We are not the only force going through this at the moment.”

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