Ambulance staff shortages resulting in slower emergency response times

Ambulance. (Photo: Politie)

Last year 41 thousand ambulances arrived at an emergency situation later than the 15 minute standard, an increase of 1,500 late arrivals compared to 2015, according to figures released by Ambulance Care Netherlands. Staff shortages are the reason behind the slower response times, union FNV Care and Welfare says, RTL Nieuws reports.

"Because there are too few employees, ambulance services are routinely eliminated. So it takes longer before an available ambulance is at the scene", an FNV spokesperson said, according to the broadcaster.

According to the union, the ambulance services are running on empty. Many ambulance workers switched to working as a nurse in a hospital. "There the times are more regular and the wages are higher."

Ambulance Care Netherlands acknowledged that there is a shortage in personnel, but added that this problem is not limited to the ambulance services, but to all healthcare services. A spokesperson called on health care institutions to not compete against each other on working conditions.

The number of emergency situations ambulances responded to also increased from 610 thousand in 2015 to 630 thousand last year. This means that, relatively speaking, ambulances arrived on time just as often as in 2015, according to the broadcaster.