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Paramedics set up units inside A&E to ease long queues

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Paramedics have begun looking after patients inside an A&E unit, in an initiative by the health service to stop ambulances queueing outside hospitals and ease the strain on overstretched casualty staff.

The scheme has led to patients being handed over much more quickly at a hospital that was one of the worst in England for sick people being stuck, sometimes for many hours, in the back of an ambulance.

Queen’s hospital in Romford, in east London, has set up an ambulance receiving centre (ARC) near its main casualty unit in which two London Ambulance Service paramedics are on duty round the clock to help look after patients who would otherwise be trapped outside or in a corridor, waiting to be seen.

Patients who end up in the new six-cubicle unit behind the A&E nurses’ station have a better experience while they wait and are more comfortable – and safer – because they can have their relatives with them, eat and drink and use the toilet more easily.

Almost 2,000 patients have passed through the ARC since it opened last November, saving nearly 13,000 hours of ambulance crews’ time and enabling them to respond to emergency calls more quickly.

However, some A&E doctors regard the scheme as merely “a sticking plaster”, given that queues of ambulances have become common outside many hospitals and that casualty units are treating the lowest percentage of patients within four hours on record.

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Source: The Guardian, 3 July 2022

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