Emergency Services risk becoming “casualty of cuts” says John Biggs AM

London Assembly Member John Biggs said he is ‘deeply concerned’ after a new report showed that half of people in Tower Hamlets feel ‘fairly’ or ‘very unconfident’ that London’s emergency services are coping under the pressure of cuts and increased demand. TheEmergency Services: Casualty of Cuts?” report, published by Labour’s London Assembly Crime Spokesperson, Joanne McCartney AM, warned that the capital’s emergency services could reach crisis point without better funding from Government.

Almost 1,500 Londoners were surveyed for the report which found that 49% of people in Tower Hamlets, felt ‘unconfident’ that emergency services were coping with the increased demand, whilst only 18% said they were ‘fairly’ or ‘very confident’. The report comes just a week after the London’s population hit a record 8.6m. John Biggs AM said the Government must now act quickly to ensure London’s emergency services have enough funds to cope with rapidly increasing demands. 

The report warned that a combination of cuts to services, a growing population and increased demand, could mean that emergency services are less able to respond effectively. The impact of cuts to the capital’s emergency services was also highlighted in the report following the closure of 65 police stations, 10 fire stations and with six A&Es either closed or under threat since 2010. 

Statistics highlighted in the report from each of the London’s emergency services paint a worrying picture:

  • In December 2014, only 48% of ambulances hit the 8 minute response time target, compared with 81% in March 2014
  • 249,100 patients had to wait longer than 4 hours in London A&Es last year.
  • 5,133 police officers have been cut from London boroughs since May 2010 and violent crime on the rise
  • Fire engine response times are up in over half of the capital’s wards since the 10 fire station closures

London Assembly Member John Biggs said: 

“We all rely on the emergency services to be there when we need them, so it’s deeply concerning that 49% of people in Tower Hamlets now say they’re unconfident services are coping. With services edging ever closer to crisis point, this report makes it clear that the Government must act quickly to make sure our blue light services, including those in Tower Hamlets, do not become the casualties of cuts.

“London’s population is already at a record high and is set to grow even further in the coming years. Over the past five years we’ve seen our emergency infrastructure stretched, with many of London’s A&E departments, police and fire stations closed and services struggling to hit their targets. With the emergency services warning of further budget cuts on the horizon we need assurances from Government, whoever is in power, that the burden of cuts won’t fall so heavily that these vital services cannot cope.”

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