A HEREFORDSHIRE civic leader has said he faced a five-hour wait for an ambulance while having a heart attack.

Ross-on-Wye mayor Ed O'Driscoll said the care when he got the Hereford County Hospital's cardiac care unit was "magnificent", but it took more than a day to get there.

Now, Coun O'Driscoll, a Liberal Democrat, has said he fears it will be impossible to improve the NHS in any meaningful way at a county level until huge reforms nationally.

The Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs Hereford County Hospital, has been trying to cope with extreme pressure this winter by bringing in extra beds and asking staff who are off-duty to work.

Recalling his September heart attack, Coun O'Driscoll said: "Once I was in the system the care I received was magnificent, but in order to get there I had firstly to get myself to hospital, while still having the attack, as the wait for an ambulance was more than five hours.


"Once in A&E I was notified it would be more than six hours before I could be triaged and, to cut a very long story short, it took 36 hours before a bed was finally found for me in the cardiac care unit.

"However, from the moment I arrived to the day I came home I witnessed nothing but dedication, professionalism and wonderful care from all my nurses, doctors and consultants in the face of crippling adversity.

"From my bed I watched as nurses gave up breaks and stayed way beyond their shift times because of staff shortages and horrendous admission numbers.

"At all times they did this with a good heart and a smile."

NHS crisis 'entirely avoidable'

He said the current crisis, leaving the NHS under huge pressure, was "entirely avoidable" and the "majority of blame must lie with the Tory government who despite their platitudes have consistently failed to properly fund or overhaul our NHS and social care system".

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"A good example is Jeremy Hunt’s record when between 2012 and 2018 he failed to tackle staff shortages or to resolve the obvious problems in social care," he said.

"He oversaw the scrapping of the Nurses Bursary Scheme to save £800 million which has resulted in an estimated drop of 40 per cent in applications and the long-term shortage of nurses we see in our hospitals today."

Hereford Times: Ambulances outside Hereford County Hospital on the morning of Tuesday, January 3Ambulances outside Hereford County Hospital on the morning of Tuesday, January 3 (Image: Rob Davies)

He said the Lib Dems are committed to raising the pay of NHS, health and social care workers to a rate above inflation, something which he says would end the current strikes and make the prospect of working within the NHS far more attractive.

"You would have thought that after the experiences of the last few years the Government would have learned that the nation’s health is too important to be used as a political football, but sadly I fear only the ballot box will see any significant change," he added.

"Right now the NHS feels like it’s on life support itself; I hope it can hold on till the next election."

More NHS beds 'desperately needed'

Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive at NHS Providers, the membership organisation for NHS trusts in England, warned that urgent and emergency care services are still experiencing “alarming levels of stress”, adding: “More beds are desperately needed.


“Every day, more than 14,000 medically fit patients cannot leave hospital, given a need to invest more in capacity in social care and community services.

“The £250 million announced by the Government to free up beds is welcome given the urgent need to ease pressures, but this needs to reach the front line without delay.”

NHS still under 'significant pressure'

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director for England, acknowledged latest figures showed the NHS remains under “significant pressure”, adding: “The NHS has done extensive preparation for this winter – rolling out extra beds, falls services and nationwide 24/7 control centres to track and manage demand.

“The public can also help by using the best services for their condition: 999 in an emergency and otherwise 111 online, and there is still time to get vaccinations if eligible.”

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