Lib Dems pledge emergency fund to counter ‘scandal’ of ambulance waiting times

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey says the public has lost faith in the ability of ambulance services to meet emergency callout targets, which he described as a “scandal”.

The party has pledged £50 million for an emergency fund to support ambulance trusts in an effort to restore public confidence that a call to 999 will get the emergency treatments they need.

On Sunday, the Lib Dems will say that the extra cash will allow ambulance trusts to reverse closures of community ambulance stations and cancel planned closures.

The announcement comes as new analysis of NHS data by the party found that 86,603 Category 2 callouts and 27,765 Category 1 callouts are estimated to miss their 18 and seven-minute targets respectively before polling day on July 4.

These categories include strokes and heart attacks, with categories listed as life and death situations.

Local elections
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey (Joe Giddens/PA)

The analysis showed London and the West Midlands would be the worst affected regions, with more than 2,100 callouts estimated to be missed for the Category 1 target of seven minutes for life-threatening emergencies over the next 11 days.

Sir Ed said: “Everyone should be confident that when they ring 999 in a life or death emergency, an ambulance will arrive in good time.

“It is a scandal that, under the Conservative government, people have lost faith that an ambulance will arrive in time to save them or their loved ones.

“Paramedics have been working flat out to keep us safe and healthy, but the Conservatives have failed to act on warnings that they are struggling to maintain a safe and timely service. The evidence shows this is costing lives.

“By making this additional funding available to ambulance trusts, Liberal Democrats will support them to reverse and halt closures of community ambulance stations – reducing waiting times, and ensuring patient safety.

“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a fair deal on health, ensuring everyone can get the high-quality healthcare they need, when they need it and where they need it.”

The Addendum to the NHS Constitution requires all ambulance trusts to: Respond to Category 1 calls in seven minutes on average and respond to 90% of Category 1 calls in 15 minutes.