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Found 241 results
  1. News Article
    Some ambulance trusts are not sending paramedics to up to around a quarter of their most serious calls, according to figures obtained by HSJ. HSJ submitted data requests to all 10 English ambulance trusts after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about the proportion of category one calls not being attended by a paramedic at South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust. The regulator said in a report published in August last year that between November 2021 and April 2022 around 9% of the trust’s category one calls were not attended by a paramedic. Inspectors said this meant some patients “did not receive care or treatment that met their needs because there were not appropriately qualified staff making the decisions and providing treatment.” But data obtained via freedom of information requests reveals other ambulance trusts had far lower proportions of category one calls attended by paramedics than the South Central service last year. Read full story Source: HSJ, 2 February 2023
  2. News Article
    Ambulance crews in the North East frequently responded to emergencies without access to life-saving drugs, a damning inspection report has found. The study of North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NEAS) concluded patients were potentially put at risk by the poor management of medicines. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found a deterioration of services and rated NEAS's urgent care as "inadequate". In response, NEAS said it had faced a year of "unprecedented pressures". The damaging assessment follows the launch of a full independent NHS review into numerous "tragic failings" involving patients. Announcing the review, the then health secretary Sajid Javid said he was "deeply concerned" about claims NEAS had covered up mistakes. Whistleblowers have told Newsnight multiple deaths were not investigated properly because information was not always provided to coroners and families. Read full story Source: BBC News, 1 February 2023
  3. News Article
    Thousands of ambulance staff across five services in England - London, Yorkshire, the South West, North East and North West - will walk out on Friday 10 February, Unison says. It means strikes over pay will now be happening across the NHS every day next week, apart from Wednesday. Life-threatening 999 calls will be attended to but others may not be. Downing Street says the continuing industrial action will concern the public. The NHS's biggest day of industrial action is set to happen on 6 February, when many nurses and ambulance crews across England and Wales will be on strike. Unison says the government must stop "pretending the strikes will simply go away" and act decisively to end the dispute by improving pay. The union warned that unless the government had a "major rethink" over NHS pay, and got involved in "actual talks" with unions, it would announce strike dates running into March. The government says the above-inflation pay rises requested are unaffordable. Read full story Source: BBC News, 31 January 2023
  4. News Article
    Thousands of extra hospital beds and hundreds of ambulances will be rolled out in England this year in a bid to tackle the long emergency care delays. The 5,000 new beds will boost capacity by 5%, while the ambulance fleet will increase by 10% with 800 new vehicles. Details of the £1bn investment will be set out later in a joint government and NHS England two-year blueprint. Questions have also been raised about how the extra resources will be staffed - 1 in 10 posts in the NHS is vacant. The government believes the measures, which will be introduced from April, will help the NHS to start getting closer to its waiting time targets. It has set goals that by March 2024: 76% of A&E patients will be dealt with in four hours. Currently fewer than 70% are. The official target is 95% An average response time of 30 minutes for emergency calls such as heart attacks and strokes. In December patients waited over 90. The official target is 18. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said cutting NHS waiting times was one of his five main priorities. Read full story Source: BBC News, 30 January 2023
  5. News Article
    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.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 25 January 2023
  6. News Article
    A record number of patients suffered “severe harm” as a result of ambulance delays in December, soaring by nearly 50 per cent in just one month as the NHS crisis deepened. Almost 6,000 suffered permanent or long-term harm due to long waits to hand over patients outside A&Es – up from just over 4,000 in November. A further 14,000 patients were likely to have suffered “moderate harm”, an analysis by The Independent of NHS ambulance data and estimates of harm by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) found. This includes incidents that resulted in patients needing further treatment or procedures, the cancelling of treatment, or being transferred to another area. Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said the figures are a “worrying reminder of the huge pressure the NHS is under”. She said: “Trust leaders are doing everything they can to provide patients with safe, high-quality care but they know patients face lengthy handover delays far too often, contributing to avoidable harm.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 20 January 2023
  7. News Article
    Ambulance workers are to join nurses in taking strike action on 6 February in England and Wales in what will be the biggest NHS walkout in this dispute. The GMB announced four new stoppages for ambulance staff - one of which coincides with a nurses' strike date. It is the first time both ambulance staff and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have acted on the same day. GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said: "Ambulance workers are angry. Our message to the government is clear - talk pay now." The walkouts by staff including paramedics, call handlers and support workers in seven of the 10 English ambulance services along with the national Welsh service will take place on 6 and 20 February, and 6 and 20 March. Under trade union laws, both unions will have to provide emergency cover. But it raises the prospect of urgent 999 calls for falls not being responded to, and a huge chunk of pre-planned hospital care such as hernia repair, hip replacements or outpatient clinics not being done. Read full story Source: BBC News, 18 January 2023
  8. News Article
    An acute trust chief executive has criticised the lack of communication during last month’s nursing strike, warning that he and other accountable officers could face manslaughter charges if patients are put in danger by decisions made by senior colleagues elsewhere in the system. Matthew Hopkins told a board meeting that Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s emergency department was “pushed to the extreme” on 20 December, with 176 people squeezed into a facility originally built for 50. He said that without warning from regional colleagues, an additional 18 people were brought in to the hospital by the ambulance service and ended up in corridors, at which point the trust declared a critical incident. The chief executive officer said he wanted to put on record an apology to staff for the incident, adding that he was “not aware” of the situation until it unfolded. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 17 January 2023
  9. News Article
    The health secretary said "voluntary arrangements" for emergency cover during recent ambulance strikes could not "ensure patient and public safety". In a letter to the GMB, Steve Barclay acknowledged unions that walked out had agreed to answer the most serious category one 999 calls. But he said the lack of cover for category two calls, including strokes, in some areas put lives at risk. The GMB has accused the government of "demonising" its striking workers. In response, Mr Barclay wrote on Sunday that he recognised the right to strike and accepted "that a certain amount of disruption is inherent to any strike". He said he "greatly" valued the "vital work ambulance workers do" but criticised the "volatile" assurances given to him about cover by trade unions during December's industrial action. The government's anti-strike bill is due to be considered by MPs again on Monday. The legislation would set minimum service levels for fire, ambulance and rail services during industrial action and could leave unions at risk of legal action if they fail to comply. Read full story Source: BBC News, 15 January 2023
  10. News Article
    Patients with emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes in England had to wait more than 90 minutes on average for an ambulance at the end of 2022. It came after a sharp deterioration in 999 response times in December - they were nearly twice as bad as November. Record worst waits were also recorded for life-threatening cardiac arrests, while A&E waits of over four-hours reached their highest level ever. Patient groups warned the delays would be leading to real harm. Combined, the data - released by NHS England - represents the worst-ever set of emergency care figures since modern records began in 2004. The figures show: Average waits of more than 90 minutes to reach emergency calls such as heart attacks - five times longer than the target time - with waits of over 150 minutes in some regions. Response times for the highest priority calls, such as cardiac arrests, taking close to 11 minutes - 4 minutes longer than they should. More than a third of patients in A&E waiting longer than 4 hours. One in seven patients waiting more than 12 hours for a bed on a ward when they need to be admitted. But there has been some progress with the waiting list for routine treatment falling slightly, to 7.19 million by the end of November. Read full story Source: BBC News, 12 January 2023
  11. News Article
    Ambulance bosses have apologised to the family of a man who died after he had a heart attack but no ambulance came. Martin Clark, 68, started suffering with chest pains at his home in East Sussex on 18 November - before any strike action started in the NHS. His family rang three times for an ambulance and after waiting 45 minutes drove him in their car to hospital. When they arrived, the father of five went into cardiac arrest and, despite receiving medical attention, died. Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said cases such as the Clarks' were "incredibly distressing". "The difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes when someone is having a heart attack or stroke," she said. "Extreme delays to emergency heart and stroke care cannot become a new normal. Healthcare staff are doing all they can—but there aren't enough of them and many will be working in difficult conditions without fit-for-purpose facilities." Read full story Source: BBC News
  12. News Article
    An investigation by The Independent has revealed that the number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E for treatment has exceeded 50,000 a week for the first time. Leaked NHS data shows that last month as many as one in eight patients faced a “trolley wait”—the time between attending A&E and being admitted—longer than 12 hours, as the health service comes under ever greater strain. Sources across the country told The Independent that hospitals are having to “squeeze” patients into spaces other than normal wards or A&E, with no direct oxygen lines. Meanwhile patients wait for hours in ambulances outside emergency departments. Read full story Source: The Independent, 11 January 2023
  13. News Article
    Ambulance staff will take part in their second day of strike action this winter on Wednesday 11 January. Alongside paramedics, call-centre staff will walk out across England and Wales in the dispute over pay. These workers play a vital role, taking calls from the public and assigning ambulance crews. An ambulance dispatcher at the North West Ambulance Service, who wishes to stay anonymous, has described working amid the extreme pressures of this winter. They said, "The thought of going in and having to manage those calls just fills me with absolute dread. I have seen people leave the ambulance service - they have had enough. We are physically and mentally exhausted." Most frustrating, the dispatcher says, is the number of crews stuck outside hospital waiting to hand patients over to accident-and-emergency staff. In the last week of 2022, more than 40% of crews in England had waits of more than 30 minutes - it should take 15. Read full story Source: BBC News, 10 January 2023
  14. News Article
    Hours lost to ambulance handover delays, and the numbers of ambulances waiting more than an hour outside hospitals hit new highs in the week after Christmas. Data published this morning by NHS England revealed nearly 55,000 hours were lost to delays between 26 December and 1 January and 18,720 ambulances had to wait more than an hour to handover patients as emergency departments struggled, with many trusts declaring critical incidents. The number of hour-plus delays followed previous years’ trend of a slight dip in the week leading up to Christmas followed by an acceleration afterwards. However, levels this year were more than twice those seen in 2021 and three times those of the previous two years. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 6 January 2023
  15. News Article
    The extent of the gridlock in hospitals over Christmas has been revealed, with data in England showing record numbers of ambulances delayed dropping off patients at A&E. More than 40% of crews were forced to wait at least half an hour to hand over patients in the week up to 1 January. That is the highest level since records began a decade ago. But there is hope pressures could soon start easing, with flu and Covid admissions dropping last week. But the UK Health Security Agency is warning it is too early to say whether the flu season - the worst in a decade - has peaked, because reporting lags over the festive period may have affected the data. And Matthew Taylor, of the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals, said wards were still incredibly full, which was creating delays in A&E and for ambulances. He said hospitals were facing "crisis conditions" that were presenting a risk to patients. Read full story Source: BBC News, 5 January 2023
  16. News Article
    The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) is investigating whether a delayed response contributed to the deaths of eight people in recent weeks. All eight deaths occurred between 12 December and the start of January. The NIAS is treating four of the deaths as serious adverse incidents, which is defined as an incident that led to unintended or unexpected harm. The remaining four deaths are being investigated to see whether they meet that criteria. The patients' identities have not been disclosed, but it is understood one of the eight people was a man who waited more than nine hours for an ambulance in mid-December. The man's condition deteriorated and he died before paramedics arrived. The delays are a cause of "great concern," but there is "no end in sight to the pressures we are facing," according to the ambulance service's medical director Nigel Ruddell. He said the ambulance service conducts an internal review whenever "there is a delayed response to the call and a poor outcome from the call" to see whether delays contributed to a death. "That process involves liaising with the family and being open and clear with them about what happened on the day - whether it was because of pressures and demand on the day or whether there was something that, potentially, we could have done better." Read full story Source: BBC News, 4 January 2022
  17. News Article
    When Steve Parsons's grandfather collapsed at his Monmouthshire home, his family immediately dialled 999. However when they were told there were no ambulances available, they had to take measures into their own hands. In desperation, Mr Parsons drove and then carried the 83-year-old, who had suffered a cardiac arrest, into the Grange Hospital near Cwmbran, Torfaen. Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) and Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) admitted the incident did not match the service they wished to offer - but said it was indicative of the "unprecedented" pressures both organisations were under. Mr Parsons said: "It was horrible. They're on the phone, you're there and he's grey in the face and looks horrendous. You just panic." By the time Mr Parsons drove to the hospital, his grandfather had gone into cardiac arrest. He then carried his relative on his shoulder across the car park "yelling for help". A passing nurse heard his calls and was able to help save the 83-year-old's life using CPR. His grandfather is now recovering at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny, but Mr Parsons said his family has been traumatised. "It makes me feel angry," said the 31-year-old. "If my grandfather had that ambulance, had that oxygen, I fully believe he wouldn't have gone into cardiac arrest and my family wouldn't have gone through what they've gone through these past seven days." Read full story Source: BBC News, 4 January 2023
  18. News Article
    Paramedics will only wait with patients for 45 minutes before leaving them on a trolley in A&E, one ambulance trust has said. One in five ambulances are waiting at least an hour outside accident and emergency departments to hand over patients, the latest data show, despite NHS standards stating it should only be 15 minutes. Now, London Ambulance Service (LAS) leaders have told hospitals their staff will only remain with patients for a maximum of 45 minutes for handover due to “the significant amount of time being lost” waiting in A&E departments. A leaked letter, seen by ITV News, from the LAS said: "From January 3 we are asking that any patients waiting for 45 minutes for handover... are handed over immediately to ED (emergency department) staff allowing the ambulance clinicians to leave and respond to the next patient waiting in the community. "If the patient is clinically stable the ambulance clinicians will ensure the patient is on a hospital trolley or wheelchair/chair and approach the nurse in charge of the emergency department to notify them that the patient is being left in the care of the hospital and handover the patient." The email added that if the patient was not clinically stable, ambulance crews would stay with the patient until handover is achieved but added that the clinical responsibility for the patient lied with the hospital. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 3 January 2023
  19. News Article
    Ambulance staff are being urged to conserve oxygen supplies because of a national shortage of small cylinders used both on ambulances and in some A&E departments. South East Coast Ambulance Service Foundation Trust has told staff the shortage is caused by the high number of patients with respiratory conditions and “the suppliers are reporting that this is higher than during the first wave of the covid pandemic”. In a message to staff last week, East of England Ambulance Service Trust said: “Oxygen suppliers, including BOC, are currently unable to supply sufficient numbers [of small cylinders] to fulfil our orders. “This has been escalated nationally and NHS Procurement are working to support ambulance trusts with supplies.” But it added that over the next few days it would need to “carefully manage” supplies. The type of cylinder affected typically provides about 30 minutes of oxygen on full flow and is widely used on ambulances and also where patients are cohorted in accident and emergency departments or kept in corridors waiting to be passed to hospitals, without access to the normal piped supply. Many ambulances will carry several smaller cylinders, and sometimes they also carry one larger one. However, if a patient requiring oxygen can’t be handed over quickly at A&E, ambulance supplies may start to run low. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 30 December 2022
  20. News Article
    Ambulance staff in five areas of England are to stage two further strikes in January, union leaders say. The industrial action on 11 and 23 January is likely to heap more pressure on emergency care, which is already under serious strain. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said further strike action was in no one's best interest. Unison leaders say the action is a direct result of the government's refusal to negotiate over pay. Life-threatening calls to 999, as well as the most serious emergency calls, will still be responded to, they say. Services in London, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South West will take action over pay and staffing. The January strikes will each last for 24 hours from midnight, Unison says, and will involve all ambulance employees - not just 999 response crews. Read full story Source: BBC News, 22 December 2022
  21. News Article
    The NHS entered the last six hours of the ambulance strike with a sense that the real test will be seen in the coming days. Call volumes were down and many A&Es quieter than in previous days. NHS111 was very busy. Despite the fears expressed by leaders ahead of the strike not yet coming to fruition, the day ended with eight integrated care systems declaring critical incidents, along with all striking ambulance trusts and a number of hospital trusts. Leaders across the country told HSJ they feared that those who stayed away today in response to pleas for “common sense” amid industrial action may come back tomorrow, seeing demand return strongly. A senior London source said: “The ambulances will have stacked some calls and we may have a flood of movement tomorrow.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 21 December 2022
  22. News Article
    Ambulance unions have reacted with anger after the health secretary said they had "taken a conscious choice to inflict harm on patients". Steve Barclay said unions had refused to work with the government at a national level on how they would cover emergency calls during strike action. Unison said it was "utterly shocked" by the comments, while the GMB union said they were "insulting". Paramedics are among those striking in England and Wales on Wednesday. Control room staff and support workers who are members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions are also involved. NHS bosses are warning patient safety cannot be guaranteed during the action, although unions say life-threatening callouts will still be responded to by an ambulance. They also argue patients are already being put at risk due to waiting times and the pressure on the health service, made worse by staff shortages. Read full story Source: BBC News, 21 December 2022
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