Ambulance crew waits seven hours to handover patient at A&E

Hundreds of ambulances arriving at hospitals missed handover targets - while bosses have admitted they are still battling huge demands in A&E.

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton
New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton

A report for Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross and Cannock Chase hospitals, stated that 306 ambulances breached the 30-60 minute handover target at A&E during August compared with 328 the previous month. While 366 ambulances breached the 60-minute handover target during that month compared with 254 in July.

NHS rules state it should take no longer than 15 minutes.

The report stated: "The longest waiting ambulance during the month was recorded at six hours and 57 minutes. This was on August 23 when we had 144 ambulance arrivals and a total of 503 attendances on the day.

"This was by far the busiest day of the month for attendances (the daily averages for the rest of the month were 405) and this was the second busiest day of the month for ambulances (with daily averages of 129 during the rest of the month).

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has accepted that ambulance response times in the region are not good enough, with handovers being blamed for some of the issues. And it said crews were now taking less than half of its patients to hospital.

Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust's deputy chief operating officer Kate Shaw said: “Patient safety continues to be our highest priority and staff go above and beyond to ensure those requiring urgent clinical attention are given priority, so that they receive the care and treatment they need as soon as possible.”

“In common with trusts across the country we have seen a sustained increase in demand for our emergency services, particularly with patients who have complex medical needs. Such cases mean high demand for our inpatient beds across the organisation as well as spaces within the emergency department which, unfortunately causes delays for others who are waiting to be admitted.

“We will continue to work with West Midlands Ambulance Service to make sure that patients are assessed, treated and handed over as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to ask people to help us help them by thinking ‘could I seek assistance elsewhere?’ before calling 999 or attending A&E.

“NHS 111 can assist you with urgent advice, self-care, prescriptions and much more. There is also lots of advice on the NHS app and website. This may prevent you needing to attend the emergency department, which will mean you can be treated quicker and more appropriately for the level of treatment you may require.”

Murray MacGregor, spokesman for WMAS, said: “As an ambulance service, we now take less than half of our patients to hospital, the lowest in the country.

“We are working with all local NHS partners to reduce delays so crews can respond to the next incident as quickly as possible. All patients continue to receive clinical care until they are handed over to hospital staff.”

In Shropshire significant pressures on the county's emergency services led to ambulance crews facing waits of up to nine hours and 45 minutes to handover patients last month - twice as bad as January – when the country was supposedly in the worst phase of Covid.

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