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Ambulance service will collapse by August, predicts its nursing director

A struggling ambulance trust could face a ‘Titanic moment’ and collapse entirely this summer if the region’s worsening problems with hospital handover delays are not taken more seriously, its nursing director has told HSJ.

Mark Docherty, of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), said patients were “dying every day” from avoidable causes created by ambulance delays and that he could not understand why NHS England and the Care Quality Commission were “not all over” the issue.

He revealed that handover delays at the region’s hospitals were the worst ever recorded, that rising numbers of people were waiting in the back of ambulances for 24 hours, and that serious incidents have quadrupled in the past year, largely due to severe delays.

More than 100 serious incidents recorded at WMAS relate to patient deaths where the service has been unable to respond because its ambulances are held outside hospitals, according to the minutes of the trust’s March quality and safety committee.

"Around 17 August is the day I think it will all fail,” he said. “I’ve been asked how I can be so specific, but that date is when a third of our resource [will be] lost to delays, and that will mean we just can’t respond. Mathematically it will be a bit like a Titanic moment.

”It will be a mathematical certain that this thing is sinking, and it will be pretty much beyond the tipping point by then.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 25 May 2022


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