Thousands of UK ambulances are being prevented from responding to urgent and life-threatening 999 calls as they are tied up at A&E units, breaching NHS patient safety rules.
In a report by the Guardian, it is stated that almost 600,000 ambulances face delays of over 15 minutes in their crews handing over patients to A&E units, something NHS rules say should never happen.
These figures were previously unpublished but reveal that the ambulance delays are three times worse than shown in NHS England’s official statistics.
By NHS standards, any wait longer than 15 minutes is deemed a potential life risk. This is because it means that in serious cases such as strokes, heart attacks or stabbings, paramedics can’t respond immediately, leading to further injuries or even fatalities.
Statistics also show that ambulance crews in England had to look after 186,000 patients either in the back of their ambulances or in the corridor of a hospital, for at least half an hour between November and March.
The data also detailed that there were 594,279 incidents that health regulators NHS England and NHS Improvement say should not have happened.
Any delay in treating a patient, or handing them over to A&E, can result in an increased risk of further injury or worse.
In a letter obtained by The Guardian, senior figures in charge of acute, urgent and emergency care wrote to all NHS trusts on 15th November stating:
“Delays in handover of patients from ambulance services to EDs result in: increased risk to patients on site due to delays in diagnosis and treatment [and] increased risk in the community because fewer ambulances are available to respond.”
“The patients in the urgent care pathway who are at the highest risk of preventable harm are those for whom a high-priority 999 emergency call has been received, but no ambulance resource is available for dispatch.”
The Guardian also reports that at some hospitals up to 88% of ambulance arrivals were longer than 15 minutes.
While we appreciate that ambulance services can be over-stretched and that they will aim to respond to the best of their ability, when a delay happens that leads to serious injury or worse to an individual, they should be given a fair compensation.
If you or a loved one have experienced an ambulance delay that has led to further suffering, speak to our medical negligence specialists at The Specter Partnership today.
We can offer free initial legal advice on making an ambulance delay claim. Call now on 0800 019 3460, or use our simple online claim form.