Ambulance staff numbers fall in England as NHS crisis worsens

A party press release brings the news:

  • New analysis reveals there are almost 500 less full time ambulance staff compared to 2015
  • North West loses hundreds of staff since 2018 despite rising emergency wait times
  • South East and East Midlands loses the postcode lottery with fewest staff members per population

New House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed there are fewer full-time ambulance staff compared to 2015. 

The number of full time ambulance staff who are clinically registered in England has dropped by 467 since 2015.

Three regions have seen a decline in full time clinically registered ambulance staff, including the North West (-656), East Midlands (-316) and South East Coast (-194).

The South East and East Midlands lose the postcode lottery of ambulance staff per population. There are a staggering 3,800 people per full time ambulance staff member in those regions, compared to the West Midlands which has 2,400 per staff member. 

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The South East Coast and South Central ambulance services, both in the South East region, have already declared a major incident amid dangerously high waiting times. In Winchester a 96 year old woman recently waited seven hours for an ambulance to arrive after a fall, and endured another six hours before seeing a doctor. 

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an urgent five point plan to support ambulance services this winter to ease the pressure on hospitals. As part of this the party is calling for a long-term strategy to improve social care, free up hospital beds and stop ambulances waiting outside hospitals.

Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: 

This once again proves the blame for the NHS crisis lies squarely with the Conservative Government. 

It is no wonder ambulance waiting times have reached dangerous levels when the Government has failed to recruit more paramedics. 

The consequences of this failure have been horrifying, from the elderly left on the floor for hours after a fall to those in life and death situations not being treated in time.  

More lives will be lost if the Government does not act now. Conservative Ministers have spent months arrogantly dismissing warnings from senior doctors but there is no more time to waste now. 

The Government must launch an emergency recruitment campaign to staff our ambulances and save lives.


Full House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats.

Ambulance staff are as defined by the NHS Digital Statistics – full time equivalent and clinically registered. 

The Liberal Democrat 5 Point Winter Plan for the ambulance crisis is:

  • Launch a campaign to retain, recruit and train paramedics and other ambulance service staff. Like all health and care services, it needs to be properly staffed.
  • Bring forward a fully funded programme to get people, who are medically well enough, discharged from hospital and set up with appropriate social care and support. This will allow people to leave hospital sooner and make more space available for new arrivals.

The Government’s current attempt at this through the Adult Social Care Discharge Fund is not good enough, as the funds will come from existing NHS budgets putting even more pressure on other services. It will also not be deployed in full until January next year.

  • In addition to getting people out of hospital so that they get care in a more comfortable setting, the number of beds in hospitals needs to be increased to end excessive handover delays for ambulances, caused by a lack of bed capacity. Any new beds must come with increases in staff to care for those extra patients.
  • Expand mental health support services to get people the appropriate care they need and reduce the number of call outs for ambulances for mental health reasons. Learning from hospitals that have set up ‘emergency mental health departments’, will not only get people more appropriate care but relieve pressure on A&Es and ambulances.
  • Pass Daisy Cooper MP’s Ambulance Waiting Times Bill into law that would require accessible, localised reports of ambulance response times to be published. This would ensure that ‘hot spots’ with some of the longest waiting times can be identified routinely. 12 hour waits at A&E should also be published from arrival at hospital rather than the ‘decision to admit’ as is current practice, so that the true scale of the problem is clear for all to see.

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One response to “Ambulance staff numbers fall in England as NHS crisis worsens”

  1. It is interesting that if you want to be an RAF pilot then you will be paid to go through University. However if you want to be a nurse, or a doctor, you will get into £50,000 to £60,000 of debt from your journey through University. Odd priorities the Government seems to have.

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