A CANVEY paramedic and resident has written to parliament urging a reconsideration of plans to cut the island’s only first response vehicle before “people start dying”.

In October, the Echo reported fears the response vehicle could be axed, causing longer waits for medical care at accidents and emergencies.

A whistleblower who works for the NHS warned under the Ambulance Response Program, Canvey’s rapid response vehicle could become a double-crewed ambulance based off the island.

Canvey currently has one ambulance which deals with calls on and off the island and a rapid response vehicle which is based on Canvey.

There are fears if the rapid response vehicle is removed from Canvey, the ambulance – which could be on the mainland – would struggle to reach any emergencies.

In a letter to Castle Point MP, Rebecca Harris, and MP Jeremy Hunt, a Canvey paramedic urged the government to reconsider.

The letter read: “I am a registered paramedic as well as a resident of Canvey Island so I am seeing this awful situation from both sides, both as a healthcare professional and a very concerned Canvey Island resident. I firmly believe that East of England Ambulance Service is about to cut resources that will cost lives.

“The trust is cutting the majority of its rapid response vehicles (RRV), this would usually be a solo paramedic travelling in a car. In the case of more rural or isolated areas, like Canvey Island, this will delay a paramedic response and treatment to an unwell patient.

“Since 2003, there has always been an RRV based at Canvey Ambulance station, which is tethered, this basically means that after every call the RRV attends, the RRV then returns to Canvey, as long as there are no other outstanding emergency calls which the RRV is the closest available response to. This would mean that there is usually some element of emergency cover always on Canvey Island. Given that it can take upward of 20 minutes for an ambulance to get from Southend Hospital to Canvey, there is huge potential for all Canvey residents to have to wait longer for an ambulance to arrive at their front door.”

An Ambulance spokesman said: "The national Ambulance Response Programme (ARP), which is supported by the College of Paramedics and health unions, is about making sure patients get the right response first time for their clinical needs, rather than simply hitting a mandatory target. The new standards recognise that in the past rapid response vehicles were used to get to a patient quickly, often to meet a target, even though the patient still needed an ambulance to get them to hospital. Under the new system, the aim is to make sure patients get the right clinical response, which is more often an ambulance than a rapid response vehicle.

"To be able to implement this, and provide patients with the best possible service, EEAST will be increasing its ambulance cover and reducing the number of Rapid Response Vehicles it operates something our colleagues in UNISON have been calling on for a number of years. Every ambulance service in England is implementing these changes for the benefit of patients.

"The Trust implemented ARP standards in October. This is about providing more transportable resources so that if a patient is having a stroke or heart attack, they receive the most appropriate response – an ambulance – to get them to hospital quickly for further care rather than simply hitting a time target.

"This new set of ambulance standards will help us focus more towards counting patient outcomes as performance and not measures which failed to take into account the care we gave, and focused more on how quickly we go reached someone even when the need to do so had no bearing on outcome. 

"ARP still means we focus on the life-threatened patients first but also puts more emphasis on benefits to people suffering strokes, for instance and getting the right type of emergency response first time for the right outcome.

"It’ll still be some time before we can bed down these changes and be clear on the operating model. However, any changes we propose will involve a full consultation with our staff.

"For more information on the new response standards, visit http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/your-service/campaigns/its-your-call.htm"