Organisers of the London Olympics have rejected a request from NHS London for the “Games Lanes” to be used for routine purposes by ambulances. These lanes are on a network of 100 miles of roads known officially as the Olympic Route Network which will be reserved for the use of VIPs so they can travel swiftly to and from the Olympic venues. The only circumstances an ambulance will be able to use the “Games Lanes” will be in an emergency when the blue lights are on. All other ambulance journeys will have to be made on the ordinary road network which is likely to be even more congested than normal. Transport for London (TfL) and the Olympic Organising Committee even turned down a request for bus lanes to be opened up for ambulances and other vehicles transporting patients on a routine, non-emergency basis.
If you’ve ever had sick and frail relatives who have had to be transported across London, you’ll know that at the best of times, these journeys can be a trial – you can only ever relax once you know they have completed the journey and are resting back at hospital or at home. To have to imagine what they could potentially suffer if their journeys are taking significantly longer than normal because of restrictions on where ambulances can and cannot travel doesn’t bear thinking about – particularly when this will be happening in the heat of the summer.
This was the response from TfL to an appeal from the Imperial College healthcare trust to use the Olympic Route Network: “There is significant demand from the police, utilities and others to use the Games lanes for critical operational reasons which fall short of actual emergencies. To give blanket approval to all these would undermine the performance of the whole Olympic Route Network and Paralympic Route Network and in particular jeopardise the journey time commitments in the host city contract.”
In other words, so long as the show goes on and the VIPs can swan around London without suffering even the mildest inconvenience, it seems to be a case of ‘sod the sick!’ It would appear that “journey time commitments in the host city contract” are of greater importance than the wellbeing of the sick and frail. This shows how far the Olympics have moved away from what were supposed to be their ideals. The London Olympics are shaping up to be a massive corporate junket with the additional aim of boosting “national prestige” and last but by no means least, a showcase for the latest in oppressive security measures ranging from drones in the sky to troops on the streets.