A petition calling for Rugby Ambulance Station to be reinstated has already collected more than 4,300 signatures despite only being launched last weekend. The family of teenager Jamie Rees, who tragically died after suffering an unexplained cardiac arrest in Rugby on New Year’s Day, set up the petition.
Jamie, a talented and hugely popular plumbing student at Rugby College, was not reached by paramedics until more than 17 minutes after his friends desperately called 999. The target time for category 1 patients, such as those in cardiac arrest, is seven to eight minutes .
With no ambulances stationed in the town, following the closure last year of the Rugby Community Ambulance Station (RCAS) at the Hospital of St Cross, the paramedics who tended to Jamie had been dispatched from University Hospital Coventry. West Midlands Ambulance Service issued an “unreserved apology” to the family and has admitted there was a “delay” in reaching Jamie.
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His family believe the 18-year-old might have survived had critical care been initiated far sooner and had a publicly accessible defibrillator been available closer to where he collapsed in Hillmorton. The OurJay campaign has raised more than £15,000 for new defibs in the town, with two already installed and a third on its way.
And now the family are fighting for a return from the town’s ambulance station. “Delays in ambulance response times are proving catastrophic in Rugby,” the family wrote on their change.org petition. “Had there been ambulances stationed in Rugby, or transferring patients to an A&E department in Rugby, Jamie could have been reached in less than 7 minutes, increasing his chance of survival by more than 56%.
“Rugby’s population is fast-growing, with a current estimated population of 110,000. An ambulance station, stand-by ambulances and a full Accident and Emergency department are critically needed in the town.
“People are dying waiting for ambulances. West Midlands Ambulance Service removed the ambulances stationed at St Cross and the stand-by ambulances from Rugby over the past few years, with the last stand-by ambulance being removed in September 2021. The town is too big not to have emergency services. 17.3 minutes is just too long.”
The petition will be supported by Rugby MP Mark Pawsey who recently raised in Parliament the findings of his own survey in which 98% of respondents called for the town to have its own A&E department, with 93% believing that Rugby was ‘underserved in terms of urgent and emergency health provision’. The Conservative MP repeatedly voiced concerns about the closure of RCAS last year and took to Westminster a petition fighting for its future, which attracted thousands of signatures.
“The overwhelming majority of my constituents believe, as do I, that additional investment in the Hospital of St Cross, and in particular Urgent and Emergency care provision, is greatly needed as the town expands,” he said. “Not only would this mean that Rugby residents have access to local A&E services, but would also help reduce the pressure on existing A&E provision.”
“I will continue to call for a debate in Parliament to make the case for the provision of A&E at the Hospital of St Cross. I will continue to work in Parliament and locally for Rugby’s health provision to meet the community’s needs.”
Mr Pawsey, who calculated that Rugby’s population could swell to around 135,000 by 2031 with a number of huge housing developments under construction, met with Professor Andrew Hardy, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust to discuss the results of his poll. He said Mr Hardy was “struck by the volume and unanimity of responses”.
A WMAS spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain firstly with Jamie’s family as they come to terms with what has happened. We have spoken to Jamie’s family on a number of occasions recently and we welcome their campaign to install more defibrillators in and around the town.
“If someone has a cardiac arrest immediate CPR by bystanders and early defibrillation are the key to saving more lives. Closing seldom-used ambulance stations has resulted in us being able to put more ambulances on the road to help us save lives; something buildings don ‘t help with.
“Long hospital handover delays impact our ability to get to patients quickly, which is why all NHS partners are working together to reduce them so that patients don’t wait longer for an ambulance to come to them than anyone would want. Find the change. org petition here, or to donate to the OurJay campaign, whose funds have been topped up by a separate raffle, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ourjay
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