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Leak reveals urgent care patients face 30-hour waits because of covid pressures

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Patients calling NHS 111 in London could face a 30-hour wait before being admitted to a hospital bed, the capital’s ambulance service has warned.

Slides presented by London Ambulance Service Trust at a webinar with NHS London this week showed “category three” patients faced long delays at all stages of the process.

The length of each stage was said to be as follows: having calls answered at 111 centres (20 mins); the “revalidation” of the call before it is passed to 999 (two hours); 10 to 12 hour waits for an ambulance; and similar waits in emergency departments before being admitted to a bed.

Category three calls are considered urgent, but not immediately life-threatening. The calls could involve abdominal pain, uncomplicated diabetic issues and some falls. Category three patients are among those the NHS is encouraging to call first, rather than going straight to accident and emergency, as part of the flagship “111 first” drive designed to produce pressure on emergency care. 

Normally, the pathway from a 111 call being made to a patient being admitted to a bed would take nine hours with a faster response at all stages, the slides suggest. But the pressure across the NHS from covid cases is leading to much longer waits.  

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 8 January 2021

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