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Deaths rise as A&E crisis leads to ambulance delays

On Monday, September 20, 2021, Michael Wysockyj felt unwell and did what any gravely sick person would do: he put his life in the hands of the ambulance service. The 66-year-old from Norfolk was whisked by paramedics to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in King’s Lynn at 6.28pm. Nearly four hours later, he was still trapped inside the vehicle. The hospital was too full to take him. He died at 4.42am.

So great were the concerns of the coroner, Jacqueline Lake, that she took the unusual step of issuing a “prevention of future death” notice. “The emergency department was busy at the time and unable to offload ambulances,” she said in her report. “An x-ray cannot be carried out in an ambulance and must wait until the patient is in [the emergency department].”

This episode should be an anomaly in the failure of emergency services. It is not.

The crisis is “heartbreaking”, according to Dr Ian Higginson, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. “If you call for an ambulance and you’re waiting many hours for one and you have a serious condition, that is going to have an impact on your outcome. It would be reasonable to assume the long delays that patients are subjected to waiting for ambulances at the moment will filter through into excess mortality.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Times, 21 August 2022


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