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HSIB launches national investigation into ambulance delays

The national patient safety watchdog has launched an investigation into the “significant patient harm” caused by ambulances being forced to wait with patients outside of A&E.

The Health and Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has confirmed it intends to launch an investigation after it received several alerts expressing concerns over the issue of ambulance delays this year.

The investigation comes after The Independent revealed 160,000 patients had either died or come to harm as a result of delayed ambulance response times during 2020-21, which were being driven by delays in paramedics being able to hand over patients to hospitals.

The damning report, from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, included examples of severely ill patients not being treated properly, being forced to go to the toilet in ambulances, and being denied food and drink, as well as antibiotics and fluids.

There have been multiple reports of patients dying while waiting for ambulances or while waiting outside of A&Es on the back of ambulances.

In a statement to The Independent, HSIB said: “We recognise that handover delays pose a serious safety risk, potentially leading to significant patient harm and impacting on the wellbeing of NHS staff. We welcome the review by AACE as they have provided detailed insight and highlighted key safety concerns. HSIB has already received several referrals expressing similar concerns, which will be taken forward to a national investigation. We will work with AACE and others across the NHS to provide systemic safety learning to help address the challenges created by handover delays.”

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Source: The Independent, 2 December 2021


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