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Hospitals ordered to take action to stop ambulances waiting longer than half an hour

Doctors’ leaders have reacted with incredulity to demands that all hospitals in England take “immediate steps” to find extra space for patients so that no ambulance waits longer than 30 minutes.

A letter from NHS England sent to the heads of NHS trusts, integrated care boards, and ambulance trusts acknowledged that this will not be easy “and that it may place additional burden on staff at an already challenging time.

The letter was sent on 15 July, in response to the increased pressure on ambulance services over the past year and in light of the current heatwave. It said, “All systems that are currently unable to offload ambulances within 30 minutes should now take further steps to create capacity within acute hospitals to ensure the rapid release of vehicles. This will require risk based decisions to be made about both the use of estate and deployment of clinical workforce.”

Vishal Sharma, chair of the consultants committee at the BMA, said, “The government should be ashamed that it has come to this. If hospitals had the space or the staff to allow them to care for these patients, they wouldn’t be waiting in ambulances at the hospital door in the first place. The sad fact is that after decades of underinvestment, our hospitals are under-resourced, under-bedded, and understaffed.”


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Source: BMJ, 18 July 2022


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