Response issued to MP’s claim 20 people died in incidents when ambulances arrived late

An East of England Ambulance Service Rapid Response Vehicle
An East of England Ambulance Service Rapid Response Vehicle

The East of England Ambulance Service has responded to an MP’s claim that 20 people died in incidents when ambulances arrived late over a 12 day period late last year.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, speaking on a Point of Order in the House of Commons, said a whistleblower had told him the service had become “critically overstretched as a result of high demand” on December 19 last year.

He added: “At that point, senior operational managers wanted to move to REAP4, which is the highest state of emergency, and seek mutual aid, most likely from the armed forces. However, that decision was not taken until December 31, some 12 days later. Even then, aid was not requested by senior management.

“I have been informed that, during that period, 20 people died in incidents when ambulances arrived late. If that is true, it raises serious questions for the trust and the Government as to why REAP4 was not declared and no aid was sought; what potentially avoidable deaths resulted from those decisions; and, above all, how we can avoid that ever happening again.”

Responding to the Labour MP’s comments, a spokesperson at the ambulance service said: “We recognise that some people experienced a delay in their care over the festive period and we, along with the wider healthcare system, experienced significant pressure.

“We always monitor our demand and capacity and take necessary actions to protect patients, working closely with NHS Improvement and NHS England. The trust has a robust internal process and we are investigating appropriately.

“Since Christmas we have responded to in excess of 50,000 patients. Of those, less than 0.2 percent of patients have experienced a significant delay.”