Chairman’s statement: “Cool under pressure”

“Cool under pressure” was the verdict from Healthwatch Lancashire Chair Mike Wedgeworth after he spent the day with a North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust ambulance crew on Tuesday 15th November to get an insight in to the service provided for patients.


Mike Wedgeworth, Chair of Healthwatch Lancashire, commented: “As soon as their shift began at 7.30 in the morning until late in the afternoon, the crew were answering 999 calls without a break in demand. I left them at 4.30, when they eventually returned to their station at Clitheroe Community Hospital for a very well earned break, and they still had another three hours to go before the end of their shift.

A bed-bound, seriously ill man in Burnley, treated at home, and others… a Rawtenstall girl who had fallen down the stairs; another from Accrington in shock from an allergic reaction; a lady who had collapsed at the supermarket and a man at the doctor’s surgery with chest pains… all conveyed to the Accident and Emergency Department at Royal Blackburn Hospital with blue lights flashing at high but careful speed.

I was invited by a representative of North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust to undertake this activity. I sat in a seat alongside the stretcher, not getting in the way, but welcomed by the crew as an observer of all that was going on.

My lasting impression was of two dedicated professionals, doing all that was needed for the patients, conducting tests, administering drugs, and ringing ahead to the hospital to let them know we were on our way.

More than anything, I was struck with the way they offered reassurance to the patients, and stayed close by them in the hospital until they could be safely handed over to the nurses and doctors.

By three in the afternoon, it was very obvious from the number of ambulances outside, the volume of patients in the department and the staff trying their best to see them and get them transferred to the wards, that A and E was under great pressure.

But, throughout, it was absolutely clear to me that the patients and their relatives were very grateful for the expertise, care and calm reassurance the ambulance crew gave to them.”