Nearly 600 patients waited 10 hours or more in the back of an ambulance to be transferred into emergency departments last month – with one taking 24 hours, HSJ can reveal.
The 24-hour wait was the longest handover delay recorded in the past year, and probably ever, according to information released by ambulance trust chief executives.
In May last year the longest recorded rate was seven hours. This has risen steadily during the year to hit 24 hours in April. In March a patient in the West Midlands had to wait 23 hours.
The figures also show 11,000 patients waited more than three hours for handover last month, with 7,000 of them taking more than four hours and 4,000 over five hours. Some 599 waited more than 10 hours.
The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives estimates 35,000 patients were potentially at risk of harm from delayed handovers last month, with just under 4,000 of those risking severe harm. This is based on work it did looking at patients waiting more than 60 minutes in 2021 and was a slight fall on March. They are based only on handover delays and do not include harm from patients left waiting for an ambulance response.
Hours lost to ambulance handover delays restrict ambulance trusts’ ability to reach other patients waiting for an ambulance in the community.
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Source: HSJ, 16 May 2022