‘Missing’ drugs in Louth one of blunders revealed in new EMAS report

The disappearance of drugs from Louth Ambulance Station is one of a number of mistakes being probed by East Midlands Ambulance Service, a new report has revealed. Photo: Hollis Photography
The disappearance of drugs from Louth Ambulance Station is one of a number of mistakes being probed by East Midlands Ambulance Service, a new report has revealed. Photo: Hollis Photography
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The disappearance of drugs from Louth Ambulance Station is one of a number of mistakes being probed by East Midlands Ambulance Service, a new report has revealed.

Lincolnshire Police were notified of an incident of January 4 where Codeine, a pain relief drug, went missing from stations in Louth and Skegness. Though the incident actually took place on December 29.

The case is one of 27 ‘serious incidents’ still under investigation by EMAS, including the deaths of 13 patients, as revealed by their Serious Incident (SI) Performance Report.

The service, which has come under fire in recent months for their controversial Being the Best shake-up, has since defended itself.

The document exposes a number of incidents of incompetence or poor care, with 47 SIs this year, including an incident in Northamptonshire when a gust of wind blew a confidential patient report out of an ambulance window. The report was never found.

Sutton on Sea woman Margaret Allsop, 75, died after an EMAS ambulance which was taking her to Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital crashed into a ditch on the A16 at Sibsey in the early hours of December 10.

Mrs Allsop had suffered leg cuts and a head injury after a fall from her bed in the night.

The report says the vehicle was travelling at ‘normal road speed’ but reveals the two paramedics in the ambulance cannot yet be interviewed as they are ‘medically unfit and currently absent from work’.

Another incident saw a man with facial injuries forced to wait 72 minutes for an ambulance after being left on hold for over an hour.

EMAS said the serious incidents represent 0.009 per cent of calls and that, as an ‘open and honest organisation’, it encourages staff to report incidents in order for lessons to be learned.

In another case a patient ‘deteriorated and died in hospital’ after being forced to wait nearly seven hours for an ambulance, according to the report.

The report reveals that a ‘four hour urgent call’ was received by EMAS at 2.50pm on November 29 for a 67-year-old with a urinary tract infection (UTI) and uncontrolled diabetes. The ambulance arrived on the scene at 9.27pm, but the patient later died.

In January a 65-year-old man was found dead on arrival by an ambulance crew after they took 11 minutes to attend a ‘Red2 8 minute response’ despite there being three ambulances available locally. The SI points to a ‘delay in allocating a conveying resource’.

In the same month an ambulance stretcher gave way whilst a patient with a suspected fractured femur was being taken to hospital, resulting in the patient and stretcher falling to the floor.

On March 25 EMAS ended an eight month saga over their Being the Best improvement programme which would have seen Louth Ambulance Station close had it not been for overwhelming local opposition.

Over the next five years they will move to a structure of nine ‘hubs’, 19 stations including Louth’s and 108 community ambulance points.

An EMAS spokesperson said: “Of the 53 incidents reported, six have already been downgraded following investigation confirming a serious incident did not occur. Of the remaining 47 incidents, six were reported as ‘near miss’ and therefore no harm was suffered but the potential was there.

“EMAS is an open and honest organisation which proactively encourages and supports staff to report serious incidents and near misses.

“Many of the incidents in question relate to a delayed responses to 999 calls. Our Being the Best plans will help improve the speed at which we respond, and we are confident that this, together with investment from our commissioners (so we have more staff on the road) will improve our performance.”

Do you still have faith in EMAS to deliver ambulance services locally? Email your views to sam.kinnaird@jpress.co.uk, tweet us your thoughts, or join the debate on our Facebook page.