Press Release: Ambulance ‘drive-bys’ soar as A&Es buckle

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[Thursday 6 April; embargoed until 7 April]


Keep Our NHS Public is calling for the government to reverse the appalling cuts in funding to the NHS in the light of new information which shows a calamitous rise in the numbers of ambulances forced to ‘divert’ past their nearest A&E because it cannot cope with the demand.

The shocking figures [1] show that the number of ambulance ‘diverts’ (where ambulances are instructed not to go to an A&E because it cannot take any more patients) has rocketed to almost double over the last winter.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan is a retired paediatrician and is co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public:

“Though the number of ambulance diverts alone is very worrying, what levels of increased morbidity and mortality will lie behind that? The impact on morbidity and mortality must be made public. We know that mortality rises by 1% for every 10km distance between patient pick up and A&E. (2)

“We know that delayed response times for subsequent call-outs are exacerbated by ambulances crews having to travel further to A&E and to wait longer with their patients in A&E before transfer of care to hospital staff.

“These pressures will undoubtedly cause avoidable deaths, adding to the devastating picture of 30,000 unexplained deaths in 2015, largely in the elderly, noted by researchers. The Government has to be called to account.”


This was echoed by KONP Campaigns Manager Alan Taman, who said:

“So the mask slips and shows the beast beneath: ‘centralisation’ really means lives put at risk by this government, whose current health policy is of denial: of service, of culpability, of consequence. Just to save cash.

“I guarantee you – if someone you care for is in the back of an ambulance and it has to go sailing past the nearest A&E, you will understand completely and with gut-wrenching certainty what the human cost of this callous denial means. Fight this. It’s our NHS. Save it.”







Editors’ Notes

Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are over 75 local groups, and over 20 affiliated organisations plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [1,2] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles. Further details:


KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:

07870 757 309

[email protected]



Facebook: Keep-Our-NHS-Public


[1] Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.

Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin

Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press

Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.

Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.


[2] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models

[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.

Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.

Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]

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