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Patients 'waiting in ambulances for 15 hours' as A&Es and Welsh Ambulance service hit crisis point

The Welsh Ambulance Service is struggling to cope as many A&E departments are full and some patients have reportedly been waiting to be offloaded from ambulances for as long as 15 hours. The service has issued a plea for the public to "use 999 responsibly" amid severe pressure.

An employee of the service said: "Nearly every A&E department is at capacity. Patients have been on ambulances for the last 15 hours. The ambulance service is only responding to red [immediately life-threatening] calls."

The service has received almost 13,000 calls to 999 since Boxing Day and there have been almost 36,000 calls to the NHS 111 Wales service.

Lee Brooks, the ambulance service’s operations boss, said: “Pent-up demand from the Christmas and New Year period, coupled with the seasonal illnesses we see at this time of year, means there are lots of people across Wales trying to access health services currently. When hospitals are at full capacity, it means ambulances can’t admit their patients, and while they’re tied up at emergency departments, other patients in the community are waiting a long time for our help, especially if their condition isn’t life-threatening.

“We’re working really hard as a system to deliver the best possible care to patients, but our ask of the public today – and in the coming days – is only to call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured, or where there is an immediate threat to someone’s life. That’s people who’ve stopped breathing, people with chest pain or breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, choking, severe allergic reactions, catastrophic bleeding or someone who is having a stroke."

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Source: Wales Online, 3 January 2024


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