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Paramedic releases shocking video showing how Covid staff shortages are affecting NHS
6 January 2022, 10:33 | Updated: 6 January 2022, 10:40
A student paramedic shared a video showing the impact of Covid as the health service grapples with high case rates and soaring staff absences.
Faye Shepherd, a student paramedic for the South Western Ambulance Service, posted the video showing a callout being received with the operator stating there are no teams to send to the incident.
The call is category one - the most serious, which NHS England defines as "calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries".
In the clip, which has since been deleted, the operator can be heard saying: "We have another outstanding category one call with nothing to send in Falmouth.
"It's another cat one in Falmouth, nothing to send.
"Anyone able to clear to assist this cat one in Falmouth please contact control."
Sharing the video to Twitter, Ms Shepherd wrote: "The most life threatening calls with no resource to send. This is the reality of the situation right now."
She added: "And this is why. Ambulances tied up at hospital for 17.5hrs+ with patients being held in the vehicle, waiting to be admitted. This is no longer a rare incident. This is every single day."
She attached a photograph showing that an ambulance had been recorded waiting at the hospital with a patient for more than 1,040 minutes - nearly 17.5 hours.
LBC has approached South Western Ambulance Service for comment.
The health service has been falling under increasing pressure in recent months.
It was already strained, but Omicron has caused case numbers to surge and has meant high numbers of staff are off with the virus.
A total of 24 NHS trusts across England have declared critical incidents in response to the rising pressures.
In recent days, some trusts have recommended patients try and get a lift to hospital instead of relying on ambulances.
Others have made decisions to postpone planned surgeries in a bid to keep essential services open.
Whilst surging Omicron cases are undoubtedly having an impact on the health service, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said there were other things at play too.
The chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee told LBC that NHS workers were retiring early because of "stress and pressure" combined with "perverse" pension arrangements, and said preventing doctors and nurses from leaving was crucial in addressing the backlog of NHS treatment.
"We're getting a lot of people leaving the NHS, we're getting a lot of people who are retiring early because of the stress and pressure," said Mr Hunt.
"Some people find that it doesn't pay to work beyond a certain age because of the pension arrangements, which are very perverse at the moment, so we could attack those.
"But I would say, most of all, what people want to know is that the pressure of not having enough doctors and nurses is not going to go on forever."
He said there were not enough doctors and nurses being trained.
"We have not just the Omicron staff absence issue but we have permanent staffing shortfalls in every major specialty now across the NHS," said the Tory MP for South West Surrey.
"Right now, across the NHS, if you ask the people running hospitals, they will not say money is the big issue, it's finding the staff to spend the money on."