Ambulance delays to one in eight patients

BBC analysis has shown that more than one in eight patients who have arrived at hospital by ambulance have endured waits of more than 30 minutes on arrival, indicating that the ambulance and hospital services are under immense pressure.

It is understood that 75,000 patients in England have experienced the longer waiting times, which are at best double the supposed handing over time of 15 minutes.

The latest figures from 20th November – 31st December 2017 illustrate regional variances in waiting times with the East Midlands typically experiencing a higher percentage of delays than other regions, within this region 20% of crews experienced delays of more than 30 minutes.

The five worst hospital trusts for delays (% delayed over 30 minutes)

1.     Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 53%

2.     United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust 45%

3.     The Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust (Norfolk) 38%

4.     East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust 34%

5.     Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust and The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (Essex) 29%

The increased waiting times raise concern over patient care as patients with serious conditions could deteriorate quickly without access to the appropriate medical care. In instances where a patients health has been directly impacted by a delay in assessment and treatment, patients may wish to pursue a hospital negligence claim in order to seek compensation for the suffering incurred.

The delay in transferring patients into the hospitals care also raises concern about the potential delays in ensuring ambulances are able to attend the most critical cases, with various reports suggesting that patients have experienced long delays in being able to be transported to hospital in an ambulance. This can have adverse consequences on patients with serious conditions that may deteriorate quickly without sufficient medical support. It is anticipated that there may be an increase in the number of patients pursuing a delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis claim as part of a wider medical negligence compensation claim.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said the problems being seen were “not surprising.”

“A&E units are over-crowded, so staff just cannot take care of these patients and ambulance crews have to stay with them. It means they face longer delays for all the assessments they should get. It is a risk, but there is nothing we can do about it.”

Ged Blezard, director of operations of the North West Ambulance Service, stated:

“We are nursing patients in hospital corridors – and that is affecting our ability to respond to patients in the community. It is happening on a daily basis.”

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