I read Bob Seely’s letter, ‘Ambulances safe’, (CP 19-03-21) with great interest.

Let’s peel back the political spin and examine the reality.

Has our ambulance service been ‘performing exceptional well’?

If you refer to the Isle of Wight NHS Trust board’s own data over recent years you will see a consistent pattern showing an inability to meet performance targets when it comes to response times for the most serious category of emergency call outs.

The truth is our Isle of Wight NHS Trust has historically for many years been laboured under a huge, deliberately engineered, deficit, designed to drive more and more efficiencies and cost savings, this has resulted in many services being cut to the bone prior to the pandemic, a situation no way unique to the IW.

When the implications of Covid-19 became clear the government, to its credit, responded by writing off NHS trust deficits, however, with many NHS services already on their knees, many were left in an even more vulnerable situation.

As our ambulance crews started to fall ill or having to self-isolate, absenteeism rates rose, and according to Isle of Wight trust data are currently running at around 25 per cent.

Additional resources had to be urgently brought in, FestiMed, Medi4, St John’s Ambulances and the assistance of the fire service crews to drive ambulances have all been employed.

A very welcome and a commendable effort, but let’s be clear, this is not a long-term solution to years of under investment, nor a substitute for an ambulance service staffed by highly experienced paramedics with skills and expertise honed by providing the highest quality of care 24/7, 365 days a year.

It really comes down to this Mr Seely, can we really not afford a few more ambulances and paramedic when the government can find £37 billion, yes billion not million, for test and trace?

It’s a political choice, and one I would respectfully suggest you need to discuss with ministers and urgently deliver on for your constituents.

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