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"Ambulances are not a replacement for Coronary Care Unit" - Farron

January 23, 2008 3:00 PM

Local MP Tim Farron has expressed his concern that although ambulance drivers and paramedics perform a magnificent service, they should not be considered as an alternative to the Coronary Care Unit at Westmorland General Hospital. Cumbria Primary Care Trust and the University Hospitals Trust of Morecambe Bay have stated that increased ambulance journey times would not present a problem because of paramedics on ambulances being able to administer life-saving 'clot busting' drugs to someone suffering a heart attack.

However, in the Ambulance Service have been quite clear about the fact that there will not be a paramedic present on board every ambulance and even when there is, evidence suggests that less than 1% of suspected heart attack sufferers in south lakeland actually receive thrombolysis (the administering of 'clot busting' drugs) in transit because the protocols for administering the drugs is so restrictive. There is no evidence that this situation will change any time soon.

Tim Farron said:

"I am constantly impressed by the work done by paramedics in difficult circumstances, and they should be applauded for this. However it just isn't sensible to suggest that treatment by a paramedic in an ambulance is an adequate substitute for the Coronary Care Unit at Westmorland General.

"The Trusts are trying to convince people to accept their plans to close our heart unit by implying that ambulance services can do more than they really can. It is unfair to allow people to be misled in this way. The closure plans need to be taken back to the drawing board as a matter of urgency, patient care must be the highest priority and that means keeping the heart unit open."