Record numbers of patients suffered severe harm last month because they spent so long in the back of ambulances waiting to get into A&E, new NHS figures reveal.
An estimated 57,000 people in England “experienced potential harm”, of whom 6,000 were exposed to “severe harm”, in December – both the largest numbers on record – because they had to wait at least an hour to be handed over to hospital staff, according to NHS ambulance service bosses.
The health union Unison, which represents many ambulance staff, said the data showed that the ambulance service “is barely coping” with the huge number of calls it is receiving.
A senior ambulance service official said the high volume of patients being put at risk because they had to wait outside A&E so long before receiving medical attention, and paramedics being prevented from answering other 999 calls, was “horrific” and “astronomical”.
He added: “These figures also show that whatever NHS England say they are doing to try to resolve this huge problem, it clearly isn’t working.”
Martin Flaherty, Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) managing director, said: “Our December 2022 data for handover delays at hospital emergency departments shows some of the worst figures we have recorded to date and clearly underlines that not enough is being done to reduce and eradicate these dangerous, unsafe and harmful occurrences.”
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Source: The Guardian, 25 January 2023