Yorkshire’s ambulance service has paid out millions of pounds in compensation through its insurance scheme for road collisions involving its emergency vehicles, the YEP can exclusively reveal.
A total of 2,295 crashes involving ambulances or patient transfer vehicles were recorded by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) between 2015 and 2017.
And the trust was forced to pay out more than £6.6m over the two-year period through its insurance scheme in compensation, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.
One fifth all the crashes happened in the Leeds ambulance district, which also covers Airedale and Bradford.
Paramedics and union officials have told the YEP that tiredness, long distance travelling to emergencies and a surge in traffic on the roads are all contributing factors.
Terry Cunliffe, regional officer for Unite the union, which represents ambulance workers, said: “I’m naturally concerned about accidents involving ambulance crew. It’s unsurprising given the nature of the job that the collisions are often a result of difficult driving circumstances. Our members often work long shifts in some locations and I’m afraid accidents are some cases inevitable.”
He said given the nature of call-outs for paramedics, where it can be the scene of a large-scale accident, collisions can occur because of the dangerous situation they have arrived at.
Only one third of all the crashes happened as ambulances were driving to the scene of an emergency, while the remaining 1,519 collisions were “not recorded as having occurred whilst responding to an emergency call”.
A spokesperson for YAS said: “The trust has a comprehensive schedule for the routine maintenance of its vehicles which includes safety inspections for emergency vehicles every 10 weeks and non-emergency Patient Transport Service (PTS) vehicles every 13 weeks.
“The servicing of vehicles follows manufacturers’ recommendations as a minimum, but our servicing programme tends to service vehicles earlier than these guidelines. With regard to the working hours of our A&E operations staff, we have just completed a full rota review across Yorkshire and the Humber.”
Trust must ‘cut large bills’
The trust paid out £6.5m in compensation through its insurance scheme following the collisions between 2015 and 2017.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance pressure group has urged the trust to ensure “negligence” was not hitting the public purse as hard.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance: “The trust must do everything it can to ensure their mistakes and negligence aren’t resulting in such large bills while rooting out those who are playing the system with spurious demands for taxpayers’ cash.”