LAST week, ambulance union members issued an open letter apologising to the public for not getting to our loved ones quickly enough.

The GMB letter was written in the wake of cases in which injured and vulnerable people were forced to lie on the ground for hours because no ambulance was available.

In at least one of those cases, the person involved later died.

An open letter merits an open reply...

Dear ambulance crew members, Please do not ever think we blame you for the disgraceful state of ambulance services across the country.

We know that your job involves seeing and doing things which would leave many ordinary people in need of a lifetime’s-worth of counselling.

We know you are with some of us at the beginning of life, when babies decide to arrive ahead of schedule. We know you are with many of us at the end of life, that you fight valiantly for us so long as there is so much as a tiny shred of hope of our being saved, and that when no such hope exists you do all you can to ensure our last moments are free of pain and fear, and that those we leave behind are comforted.

We know yours may be the last calm, kindly voice certain of us hear.

We know that if our bodies fail or we are the victim of some terrible misfortune, you will do everything in your power to keep us alive until the damage can be repaired.

We know you took your jobs voluntarily, that you underwent the gruelling training and endure the horrific daily stress of life in an ambulance crew not because you crave glory, fame, political honours or a disgusting fatcat salary.

We know that if any of you ever had ambitions to join an elite, it was that modest elite who shun acclaim but who know every hour of their working life changes the world tangibly for the better.

We know that when one of us is obliged to wait hours for you to arrive, it is not because of any failing on your part, but because you are almost certainly tending to another person whose need at that moment has been deemed more dire.

We know there are simply not enough of you for the service to do its job properly.

We know this lack is not your fault but ultimately the fault of politicians of all parties down the years, who have knowingly failed to provide the resources necessary for the service to grow in line with the needs of the communities it serves.

We know the politicians have been willingly assisted in their disgusting work by certain senior NHS executives on telephone-number salaries. We know these executives blithely respond to each new tragedy and scandal by talking of the service experiencing pressure, but that they seldom if ever lay the blame for this pressure at the door of those responsible – the politicians to whom the executives owe their fiefdoms.

We know that the politicians and bosses, though they might live in far larger houses than you, take countless exotic holidays, enjoy more luxuries and be able to send their children to private schools, are not fit to lace your boots.

We know they could no more do your job than fly to the moon by flapping their arms, but at that you could almost certainly do their jobs with far more kindness, honesty and justness. You mentioned in your letter that some of the people you encounter are prone to abusing you, both verbally and physically.

We are sure you recognise that certain of those people are driven temporarily mad by grief and torment – not that this is an excuse, of course.

Others attack you simply because they are feral vermin and know that the worst they can expect in retaliation is probably a pitiful fine.

This is because the people who fail to give the ambulance service adequate resources are also ultimately in charge of the criminal justice system. They do not regard any of us as quite human.

Looks like #@&^@#$ winter is here

WITH a harsh winter coming, car dealership Johnsons of Swindon has issued some timely advice for drivers.

Tips include getting up earlier to prepare the car for the morning commute, checking tyre tread depth, ensuring windscreen washer fluid is topped up, adding de-icer and never driving with so much as a speck of snow or ice impeding our view.

This is excellent and potentially life-saving advice, to which I can only add one thing.

Make sure your swearing is up to speed.

There is nothing more frustrating when, say, you realise you’ve run out of de-icing spray and must wait for the heated front and rear screens to do their thing, than to have only a limited mental library of expletives with which to express yourself.

Take time now to look on the internet for some imaginative ones. 
Ask friends and loved ones for their favourites. Consider combining expletives into compound swear words. 
You know that practice makes perfect.
Winters just wouldn’t be the same without inadvertently appalling a neighbour who happens to be walking their dog just as you’re setting off for work.