Asthma UK community forum


As you prob all know during my last splat the other week we phoned for an ambulance ( rare for me as mum usually takes me!) but after 25mins and one not turning up my dad phoned back to be told none were available to which they took me themselves. Much to the annpyance of medics who proceeded to tell my parents in futiure to call amb!! you can imagine my dads reply!!


Discussed on her before probs with A and E has anyone had probs with ambulances?

I emailed their PALS officer and it was looked into.

Outcome: origional call put me as serious but not life threatening!! as i was consious and breathing!! mum told them i was britle, lips blue and satslow on max o2?

When called again to update as said was deteriorating i would have been upgraded to life threatening but still couldnt say when i would have got an ambulance?

Forgive me but i thought all asthma attacks were potentionally life threatening? seems not same catagory as abroken leg in pain? hows that fair?

WAs told that all callers are told to ring back if conditon deteriorates mum says she wasnt told?

So be aware next time call 999.

Andrea xx

37 Replies


That is Bad! You should have at least got a fast responce vehicle or bike with a EMT or a Paramedic on, even if then you had to wait for an ambulance to convey. there is an 8 minute rule in most areas for a person to get to the scene whether it be an ambulance, car or bike.

I would complain to your Ambulance trust (GMAS??). because A) you were not categorised properly B) no one called you back C) your mother was not avised to call back D) anything else you can think of!

Difficulty in breathing should be a Category A call - some people occasionally call and say they have difficulty in breathing are treated as an A cat call are found to have a runny nose and a snivle! ( noted from a EMT's Blog!) But they are still sent a vehicle.

Reporting Asthma to the call taker should imediately trigger difficulty in breathing.

I have always had someone turn up often a car first but always within a reasonable time.

Hope this helps




Thank Kate, ive sent them another email saying how unhappy i am with things but as yet no reply!!!!

I cant believe they feel i was appropriatley catagorised?

BUt nothing will change unless more problems happen and are noted to th ePM himself? like he will be bothered with me?

Did anyone watch the tonight show about ambulances last week? that was bad, at least i urvived not like the poor epilepric girl features?

I keep meaning to ring AUK for their advice as thet tell us to treat every attack as life threatening but how can we if the emergency services have other ideas?

We had a much better service when we wer classes as cheshire no were merged with merseyside its too big an area with vast motorways to cover?

But when will the government listen? when more lives are lost? its really scaring me now. as im in the house alone in the day? and my attacks more sudden. it doeant bare thinking about what to do then? my GP is outraged?

Andrea xxx


Hi Andrea

I'm really sorry to hear about your experience with the ambulance. I work for the Epilepsy Association and we are taking the ambulance situation very seriously - in fact our Campaigns Officer is looking into what can be done. The problem seems to be that, since all the ambulance trusts merged, there are no stats about response times - all that are available are from before the merger, so not relevant now. I watched the programme and I think the Minister who spoke said that there will be a big increase in the number of Paramedics by March 2008, so, although that is a long way off,they seem to be on the case.

Maybe we ought to start a thread on here to monitor the ambulance situation. Perhaps the Asthma people could then use it in a campaign, if need be.



Andrea - get onto you local MP asap !!

This is exactly what needs to be passed on to those lunatics in parliment !!

I know my local MP (especially with elections coming up) would want to deal with something like this !!

This is the one thing us in ""Staffordshire ambulance trust area"" are fighting against happening as they want to merge with the ""West Midlands"" to get the west midlans system upto the level of care Staffordshire give !!

PLEASE hun I know no-one can do alot about what happened but MAKE a fuss - it could save someone's life !!

We will all back you I am sure !!

Want any letters or anything ask !!


I have quite a lot to do with ambulance personnel, and unfortunately, a big problem that affects availability is other ambulance-callers.

Close colleagues who work in London, for example, are frequently called to people with upset stomachs, pains in their feet, insomnia etc - which DON'T need an ambulance. But they feel it is their right to have one, so they quite often lie to the telephone operator and say they have chest-pains of breathing problems, so that an abulance is sent there as a priority.

The crews and paramedics hate this, because they know it means fewer ambulances to deserving cases - but there's little they can do about our glorious members of the public who get all these things for free and think they have the right to service on-tap.

*steps off soap box* xx


Wheezer - I think you'll find that the West Midlands Ambulance Service is one of the better performing services in the UK. The main reason for wanting to merge services is to remove the confusion over which service should provide cover to the shared border and to help fund - and increase the coverage of - the West Midlands Air Ambulance service !!

And yes, I am indeed a West Midlander - Don't knock it until you've tried it ;)

Spaniel - one of our very good friends is an EMT in Southend, and you are absolutely spot on.


HEY STOP FIGHTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spaniel your so true, working in A and E its amazing the things you see brought through the doors by ambulance!!! especially at holiday times!! eben broken false nail!! honest?

As i said i just feel for the road side paramedics as they are all the ones getting the flack when its totally out of there hands. The government neeeds to change the way it deals with it maybe chraging inappropriate callers like USA is the way?

Andrea xxx


and they should be charged. on the occasions i have been to a and e once to be admitted and both times unable to talk in sentences went in self as don't feel am bad enough for 999 call. but broken nail beats the lot.


The elections coming up at the Local ones not the ones for Parliament. However, your MP should care no mater what the time of year it is a couple of years he she will be re-standing. All ambulence calls are recorded, I would suggest you write and ask for a copy of the transcript between your mother and the person at control then take that to your MP. It might also be worth finding out if there is a way of tagging you on the system.



Funny that Steve as Staffordshire is rated as top of the two !!

(Joke not fighting - but its true !!)


I have to admit i have always been lucky but i only live 3 mins from a stn and on the odd occasson have rung hubby at work and then been taken to a+ e in a fire engine (still blues and 2s plus they carry o2!

The way you were treated was a disgrace and you deserve an apology and reassurance taht it wont happen again.

Does your local service flag names ? This means you are known to them and get a rapid service . its worth asking about.



I have my Name and adress logged / flagged at control with where to find spare keys so they don't have to bust the door down, That I am brittle asthmatic, have home O2, nebs, epipens and that I am Latex sensitive.

Give them a call - they should be able to do it!

Steve - Southend Paramedic - I Know him! LOL!

Spaniel - Get stories sometimes from the St John & paramedic Lot too!

How about the V stories! Too P**ed to get to car so they ask us via control! LOL!

My mum used to take me & my O2 to hossie but she doesn't live near plus I can get a bit scarey!

Anyway, off to watch the Royal! wow them were the days!




Yep kate so true didnt you know it was called 999 taxi service?

Mum did tell them i was brittle and blue on max o2? am going see GP to discuss what to do and ways round it? if can get flagged like you will be alot easier?

thanks hunny

Andrea xxx


LOL, Big White Taxi service - Drunk and no money to get home? Just call 999!

You also get people who will happily follow behind in their cars too, despite the fact that they could have hapily got them there in the cars. People also think that they get seen quicker going in via ambulance. Try staggering into reception only to be whisked straight to resus.

Anyway, Good luck with getting flagged!




Kate, staggering into A&E carrying O2 and nebbing at the same time does not half get you funny looks esp at 8am when there is a queue the receptionists just don't know what to do. And when everyone moves aside to let you go first you can't drag words out it totally throws them. Thankfully just at that point last time the tri-age nurse came out and took it all in a about 2 seconds flat.



Sadly, last year, a young man (in his twenty's i think), in my home town, died from an asthma attack cus an abulance couldn't get there. Even when the friends with him rang back and told them he had stopped breathing! Natually there was an investigation and things have been changed and (hopefully) improved but that is still a life gone that may have still been here if things had been differently. It is a shame it takes the death of someone to get things changed huh?!

I am very lucky, never needed an ambulance for my asthma, but a couple of years ago, i had a very angry gall bladder, i was kept in hospital for a week cus of it, but even when i couldn't walk, my parents took me in the car. I would never dream of calling for an ambulance unless it is life threatening, or involves a child.



I don't doubt that Staffs ambulance service is rated the better of the two; the West Midlands Ambulance service covers a bloody huge area! Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands all merged their services to create it. But it's not far behind Staffs performance-wise, and does have an air ambulance service tied to it; something Staffs lacks.

If you check the current ratings system, you'll see that the four services that merged to form the new trust are still rated separately - the Coventry & Warwick and Hereford & Worcester trusts are rated the same as Staffs. All the merge would do is share out resources and help fund a more widespread air ambulance service, which must be a good thing.

Kate - his infamy know no bounds!


Steve - done 2 KAH hols with him! LOL! though not this year!

Essex Ambulance Trust has merged with someone - not sure who (LOL) and is now called Eastern England Amb trust which is a little confusing as there is an East Anglian amb trust too covering Norfolk Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Me thinks!

Must look it up somewhere!


Kate - No, we've borrowed him this year! He's only doing one holiday; you must've worn him out!


Ooooops! LOL!


Hi Andrea

Was really surprised to read this. Actually appalled is the better word. I'm just glad you are okay!! Don't know what to say really, as I don't think I've ever had to wait longer than twelve minutes. It's a pretty serious mistake that they failed to qualify your situation as life-threatening, and I hope you will push it to get looked into.

I hope you are feeling better now as well!

Love, Brynne


We have an air ambulance Steve all of our own lol

Alot of the cost is met from public donations and a Air Ambulance lottery draw type of thing lol

The problem with it merging is that are demanding that Staffordshire take on some of the West Midlands protocols on some areas of treatment that Staffordshire do now and not WM (sorry would have to go through the old local papers and petitions too find out exactly what they are) that would simply ""COST"" lifes in Staffordhsire and I think when it comes down to that it is not worth it end of lol

I've evern only needed WM ambulance when I was a little kid when we visited a relative but Staffordshire ambulance are definitely NOT wanting to merge - having friends who work there and ALOT of the staff would resign and walk away than see lifes put at risk due to a merger where valuable services in Staffordshire (Staffordshire is a h*ll of a remote place in places) even our volunteer community paramedics (all trained nurses/other qualifications trained upto the job) would be restricted in the job they do when it is them responding within the first few minutes of a call if the merger went ahead as last planned lol

They didnt win then and had to back off again from the merger for the 3rd or 4th time (we've lost count how many put offs now) the other year because feelings are running very high over it lol

They want to dumb down stuff Staffordshire do to fit with the WM and given those particular things ""SAVES LIFES"" in a remote area like Staffordshire feelings run high Steve sorry lol


Sorry I am rolling around on the floor laughing at staffordshire being considered remote. Wheezer you should try Devon and Cornwall where you can easily 45 minutes blue light in the middle of the night from the nearest A&E. That is why Cornwall and then Devon were the 1st to have Air Ambulances. I realise this is a hot issue but dumbing paramedics is a little strong it is far more likely that the standard will be raised. I am so sorry that your friends who work in the service think their collegues over the boarder are not as well trained as them, how on earth are WM lot going to feel when the merger happens and it will happen one day, to be looked down on by their collegues. Goodness only knows how they function in an operation that needs cross boarder support.



Done a quick search to see what my current amb service is called...

A new regional ambulance service has been formed which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk - it is called ...

East of England Ambulance Service Trust!

Now that is one HUGE area!

Regards air ambulances we have as far as I know Essex (Public funded etc) and East Anglian - not sure about others. Also HEMS pops over occasinaly.

though, our chopper is day flying only - any remote island problems they call the RAF.

Remoteness - there are some remote areas, mud & creeks in Essex too though most areas are served by an ambulance station or Community first responders - a fantastic scheme. (I am still waiting for our one to be set up - only 2 peeps including me ( Arrrrgh - Kate armed with an AED!!) apllied in my town - we need a core of 20 to run it properly)

Essex also has ECPs or Emergency Care Practitioners - quite a few of them who are paramedic plus nursing skills quallified and can do basic stitching if needed so can assess and discharge a patient at home without the need for transporting to and clogging up A&E. Do other counties have this? I nearly always get an ECP as they are in the First responce cars.

From what people have noted here, there doesn't apear to be a standard that all the trusts have to stick to. All the individual trusts must have had their one standards etc which then got mixed up or even diluted when they merge into these regional trusts. Some counties are more forward with using various drugs (eg Hydrocortisone) but whether standards are all increased across the region to this level or protocols reduceds ... who knows! Not heard much really about our merger .... Will ask a few ESSAM friends sometime (ESSAM = Essex Ambulance)

anyway, some areas for thought!


(Now must get on with my PowerPoint Pres! LOL)

PS AED = Automatic External Defibrilator


Don't the protocols for things like hydro-cort depend on the hospital they tend to take people to. I know that they were talking of keeping Mad sulph for me at Plymouth but it has never been thought of for Torbay.



I'm stuck on the boundary between three hospitals and depending on where the ambulance is based depends which hospital i end up at but it's never affected the treatment i've had perhaps cos they're all the same trust.

Only wierd thing had last week was that ambulance turned up with one person in it and wasn't a first responder because of a major RTA in the north of the county and their partner had gone sick, had to wait for another ambulance to transport me to based in Lyd which is East Sussex ish i think apologies for geography. I'm in East Kent (normally 1-1 1/2 hours drive!) They were fortunately heading this way to cover and only took minutes. Call had initially been logged as panic attack cos couldnt speak and was on my own but they realised it wasn't when they got to me both crews were brilliant as usual..... Thank you if you're reading this!


Had nice reply from PALS officer today, said totally understands my fears, is lookinginto the call more deeply to see if wasnt told to call back if deteriorated or if mum didnt hear with panic!!!

thay have also like Kate adviced logged my details to flash, unfort can only do to home address so if at rugby no use but there again paramedics onsite know me!!1

Andrea xx


Staffordshire is ""remote""!!??

That is quite simply the funniest thing I've read on the Internet in years.

LOL indeed.

Staff would rather walk away than see lives put at risk? And what, exactly, do they think that walking away and leaving an under-staffed ambulance service will do, I ask myself.

If you've only ever used the WM ambulance service when you were very much younger, then you have to admit that you have no idea of the level of service it provides at the moment.

Care to elaborate on how merging a control centre would affect the immediate care provided when the same ambulancemen/woman arrive at the same place they would've done anyway?

Oh, and it doesn't have its own air ambulance. It currently uses the services of the County Air Ambulance, run out of the WM ambulance service.


only had one experience of having to call for an ambulance..about 8 weeks son had to dial 999 and a rapid response paramedic car arrived in about 7 minutes closely followed by an ambulance about 2 mins cant really complain...unfortunately about 1 week later I called NHS Direct online for advice regarding severe chest pain and they told me that they were sending out an ambulance because of the symptoms I was displaying.....6 mins later not 1 but 2 ambulances turned up!!! all in all I can't complain about the ambulance service


Well laugh all you like at the remoteness of Staffordshire but when you are stuck in the country and watch a good friend die of a heart attack because of it I don't find it funny !!

In fact I find it downright insulting !!

We have to travel to different towns to get to a hosptial around here it can take 30mins just for a land ambulance to get to you let alon to get you the the hospital and we have first responders and then voluntary first responders too who comeout within 5 or 6 minutes max!!

Under any merger we would lose a big chunk of the volunteers as they would not be allowed to do what they do now - SAVE lifes !!

Protocols would be ammended to fit the merged area so why should WM protocals be raised to Staffordshire instead of dumbing down Staffordshire who have trained and worked darn hard to make themselves what they are today !!


And I find it deeply insulting to my intelligence that you think Staffordshire is more remote than parts of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Warwickshire, all of which are now covered by the West Midlands Ambulance Service. And I think your comments are deeply insulting to anyone in a not-particularly-remote area who has ever watched someone die whilst waiting for an ambulance.

Indeed, in some parts of Herefordshire and Shropshire you can be over an hour away from the nearest A&E department by road.

The WM ambulance service has a volunteer rapid response service. And ""employed"" rapid response. And hasn't actually closed down any of the component ambulance services that merged to make it in the first place.

Are you just basically opposed to change?


Wheezer I am sorry about the death of a friend. Bearing in mind the 30 minute response time you mention I am amazed that Staffs ambulance has such a good reputation. Even in Cornwall and Devon acknowleged to be the remotest counties in England a 30 minute response time would be totally unacceptable and to have it happes often as you claim I would have thought that merger and bringing more ambulences and resources in would be just what you are looking for.



Wheezer, maybe you should read the Staff Ambluence reports for the last couple of years, I just have.



Let's not get personal about things, please, folks.

Whatever happens with the merger - the best standards and protocols will be thrashed out to best serve the community with the available resources.

Response time does not necessarily correlate with remoteness.

As a health pro I could fairly confindently say that the chances of people walking away from jobs due to this kind of political reasoning is low. Morally I would not and could not compromise patient care in that way. It is for that reason (and probably that reason alone) that there has not been a complete junior doctors' strike over the past month.


All people want in Staffordshire is that the protocols here that they are trained upto are not taken away from them as planned under any merger !!

People would prefer that WM were brought upto our level on the given protocols !!

Our people have worked/trained hard to get to the standard they are and don't want to lose the ability to help people the best way possible !!

I aint going to cause an arguement here but its not just me - the feelings are strong - its already got so far as to put the merger off until a working solution is found - several times !!

The Staffs service (and rightly so) just dont want to be brought down on some protocols because WM currently doesnt use them - Staffs trained for them and why cant WM train themeselves up to Staffs and not make Staffs lower their protocols on some areas !!

If it wasnt for that and a few other concerns people would be willing ot change but Staffordshire are proud of their service and training levels - there is no good reason why WM shouldnt train upto Staffs level !!

And one high level Staffs personnel has already walked away and many will follow it they are forced to drop protocols they have worked hard on to get where they are now and to save lifes !!

They dont want to be restricted in what they can do when they know before a merger they could have helped more !!


But what use are protocols if the ambulance arrives too late?


There is always that risk anywhere Steve - all I was saying rather badly it seems is why not bring the needed WM people upto the protocols that Staffs don't want to lose !!


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