A&E 'in crisis' as thousands of patients wait for hospital emergency care in ambulances

A&E 'in crisis' as thousands of patients wait for hospital emergency care in ambulances

A&E 'in crisis' as thousands of patients wait for hospital emergency care in ambulances

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THOUSANDS of patients in the region were left waiting in ambulances at the doors of accident and emergency departments last year because wards were too full.

Figures obtained by the Labour party show in the year 2013/14 almost 300,000 patients in England were left in ambulances for more than 30 minutes in the UK.

In the North-East 4,524 patients spent more than half an hour and 1,317 spent more than an hour waiting to be admitted for emergency care in A&E.

In Yorkshire, 10,469 patients were left in ambulances for more than 30 minutes and 1,456 waited more than an hour. The longest single wait recorded in the North-East was three hours and 52 minutes.

Labour obtained the statistics under Freedom of Information requests conducted on all ten ambulance trusts in England.

Labour's shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: "Handover delays occur when ambulance crews cannot transfer a patient to casualty departments because of staff or bed shortages.

"Thousands of vulnerable people, many of them elderly and frightened, are being wrongly held in the backs of ambulances because hospitals don't have the space. And yet ministers deny that A&E is in crisis.”

A Department of Health spokesman said it was making £28m available for ambulances from funds already given to the NHS this year and long-term were looking to reduce demand at hospital emergency departments by caring for people better in the community,

"People rely on ambulances coming quickly in life and death situations and long handovers are completely unacceptable,” said the spokesman.

"We're already making good progress in reducing the number of patients waiting for 30 minutes or longer - down by almost a third last winter - though there's always more the NHS can do.

"We are providing extra support, including £28m for ambulances from funds already given to the NHS this year, to keep services sustainable year-round. In the long-term, we want to reduce demand by looking after people better in the community."

In a bid to help solve the problem of ambulances queuing up outside hospital casualty departments, the Government introduced penalty clauses for ambulance services where there have been delays of more than 30 minutes or an hour. The fines system looks at the whole turn-around time of an ambulance, which includes the time it takes to restock and get the emergency vehicle back out.

Regional health unions say the fines for NHS trusts achieved little other than taking vital resources away from the very areas where pressures existed in the first place.

A spokesman for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said it was working to bring down handover times in a number of ways, and had introduced information screens in hospitals to give medical professionals prior knowledge of the patients prior to arrival.

“We continue to work with our healthcare partners across the region and collaboratively to minimise and avoid delays.

“To support effective handovers we have introduced information screens in emergency departments so hospital clinicians have prior knowledge of and can prepare for all patients being transported to them by ambulance.”

Comments (8)

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6:58pm Sun 10 Aug 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

This is happening because A&E departments are full of drunks, junkies and people who have stubbed their toe or some other such pathetic ailment.

It's also happening because most GP surgeries operate Monday-Friday and we're in the 21st century.
This is happening because A&E departments are full of drunks, junkies and people who have stubbed their toe or some other such pathetic ailment. It's also happening because most GP surgeries operate Monday-Friday and we're in the 21st century. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 11

7:58pm Sun 10 Aug 14

Equity1 says...

That could well be the case but it also happens because those in charge on massive wages have not one idea what life is like at the sharp end .I firmly BELEIVE the caring profession don't care anymore! You cannot get a GP appointment ,elderly terminally ill patients are left for hours on trolleys - nobody is accountable because nobody cares !
That could well be the case but it also happens because those in charge on massive wages have not one idea what life is like at the sharp end .I firmly BELEIVE the caring profession don't care anymore! You cannot get a GP appointment ,elderly terminally ill patients are left for hours on trolleys - nobody is accountable because nobody cares ! Equity1
  • Score: 2

9:36pm Sun 10 Aug 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Given just how much tax is spent on the NHS shouldn't we all be starting to ask 1. where is all the money going. 2. Whether a new style of health system is needed given that the present one doesn't actually seem capable of delivering a reasonable service. Time after time money is pumped into the NHS and the improvements are minimal - time to wholly revise health care provision in the UK
Given just how much tax is spent on the NHS shouldn't we all be starting to ask 1. where is all the money going. 2. Whether a new style of health system is needed given that the present one doesn't actually seem capable of delivering a reasonable service. Time after time money is pumped into the NHS and the improvements are minimal - time to wholly revise health care provision in the UK Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 9

10:45pm Sun 10 Aug 14

darloboss says...

Voice-of-reality wrote:
Given just how much tax is spent on the NHS shouldn't we all be starting to ask 1. where is all the money going. 2. Whether a new style of health system is needed given that the present one doesn't actually seem capable of delivering a reasonable service. Time after time money is pumped into the NHS and the improvements are minimal - time to wholly revise health care provision in the UK
not often but spot on vor
[quote][p][bold]Voice-of-reality[/bold] wrote: Given just how much tax is spent on the NHS shouldn't we all be starting to ask 1. where is all the money going. 2. Whether a new style of health system is needed given that the present one doesn't actually seem capable of delivering a reasonable service. Time after time money is pumped into the NHS and the improvements are minimal - time to wholly revise health care provision in the UK[/p][/quote]not often but spot on vor darloboss
  • Score: 0

11:01pm Sun 10 Aug 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Thank you - I believe that the government should pay for all health care but that it should not necessarily provide it. Thus for instance, if it is cheaper and more efficient to treat a cancer patient in France the National Health Service should pay for it (ie. paying for the health of the nation) but need not provide it in an inefficient manner. Who provides the service is immaterial provided that the patient is treated and the cost to the patient at the point of delivery is free.
Thank you - I believe that the government should pay for all health care but that it should not necessarily provide it. Thus for instance, if it is cheaper and more efficient to treat a cancer patient in France the National Health Service should pay for it (ie. paying for the health of the nation) but need not provide it in an inefficient manner. Who provides the service is immaterial provided that the patient is treated and the cost to the patient at the point of delivery is free. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 4

11:33pm Sun 10 Aug 14

pandorica says...

What have I just read? Fine The Ambulance Service if there delayed in handing over?, yet the government clearly know they are unable to handover as there is no nurses around to hand over as there busy trying to get the ill up to the wards from A&E, but then they are waiting as well for those discharged to go home, waiting for beds. It is a domino affect. Making the Ambulance Scapegoats for the delays is just unacceptable. The whole situation has got worse since this government came in power. Handovers were done pretty much straight away 4/5 years ago.

The amount of people coming into A&E has not changed, its the reduced staff, agency's nurses being used who are not familiar with hospital protocol, not enough Frontline Paramedics, not enough Frontline Ambulances. And a Flow Team based at the hospital whose job is solely to get those well discharged home so beds can be free for those arriving from the assessment units. As long as I've worked in the hospital there has never ever been enough beds, but there is even less now as they shut a lot of wards down. So This government are a joke. They know the problem, so instead of taking accountability for their cuts they make The frontline staff the scapegoats and fine them knowing there targets will never be met because the problems lie with them in the first place. Disgraceful.
What have I just read? Fine The Ambulance Service if there delayed in handing over?, yet the government clearly know they are unable to handover as there is no nurses around to hand over as there busy trying to get the ill up to the wards from A&E, but then they are waiting as well for those discharged to go home, waiting for beds. It is a domino affect. Making the Ambulance Scapegoats for the delays is just unacceptable. The whole situation has got worse since this government came in power. Handovers were done pretty much straight away 4/5 years ago. The amount of people coming into A&E has not changed, its the reduced staff, agency's nurses being used who are not familiar with hospital protocol, not enough Frontline Paramedics, not enough Frontline Ambulances. And a Flow Team based at the hospital whose job is solely to get those well discharged home so beds can be free for those arriving from the assessment units. As long as I've worked in the hospital there has never ever been enough beds, but there is even less now as they shut a lot of wards down. So This government are a joke. They know the problem, so instead of taking accountability for their cuts they make The frontline staff the scapegoats and fine them knowing there targets will never be met because the problems lie with them in the first place. Disgraceful. pandorica
  • Score: 13

12:25pm Mon 11 Aug 14

loan_star says...

darloboss wrote:
Voice-of-reality wrote:
Given just how much tax is spent on the NHS shouldn't we all be starting to ask 1. where is all the money going. 2. Whether a new style of health system is needed given that the present one doesn't actually seem capable of delivering a reasonable service. Time after time money is pumped into the NHS and the improvements are minimal - time to wholly revise health care provision in the UK
not often but spot on vor
Imagine if they tried to do that!! There would be hell on with the unions as per usual whenever any reforms take place.
[quote][p][bold]darloboss[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Voice-of-reality[/bold] wrote: Given just how much tax is spent on the NHS shouldn't we all be starting to ask 1. where is all the money going. 2. Whether a new style of health system is needed given that the present one doesn't actually seem capable of delivering a reasonable service. Time after time money is pumped into the NHS and the improvements are minimal - time to wholly revise health care provision in the UK[/p][/quote]not often but spot on vor[/p][/quote]Imagine if they tried to do that!! There would be hell on with the unions as per usual whenever any reforms take place. loan_star
  • Score: 1

2:01pm Mon 11 Aug 14

stevegg says...

When you have free access to all (and by all I mean anyone who is in this country, UK national or not), greater expectations from the public, a contracting NHS, fewer A&E departments, a growing elderly population, resources diverted to treat self inflicted drug addicts/alcoholics, and GP's who refuse to work other than at maximum 8am-6pm weekdays only its no wonder there is chaos as the available resources are steadily overwhelmed. Imagine if there was an outbreak on the Ebola virus scale in the UK, the health service would collapse and there would be civil unrest. If the government (current and previous) had been a bit tougher on restrictions a decade or so ago then maybe the NHS wouldnt be in this mess but the longer its left the more draconian the measures will have to be in years to come to get back to some rational. The NHS like the emergency services is being run on a knife edge with the minimum resources in an effort to save money, yet we still send £12 billion abroad in foreign aid and pay £20 billion to be in the EU???
When you have free access to all (and by all I mean anyone who is in this country, UK national or not), greater expectations from the public, a contracting NHS, fewer A&E departments, a growing elderly population, resources diverted to treat self inflicted drug addicts/alcoholics, and GP's who refuse to work other than at maximum 8am-6pm weekdays only its no wonder there is chaos as the available resources are steadily overwhelmed. Imagine if there was an outbreak on the Ebola virus scale in the UK, the health service would collapse and there would be civil unrest. If the government (current and previous) had been a bit tougher on restrictions a decade or so ago then maybe the NHS wouldnt be in this mess but the longer its left the more draconian the measures will have to be in years to come to get back to some rational. The NHS like the emergency services is being run on a knife edge with the minimum resources in an effort to save money, yet we still send £12 billion abroad in foreign aid and pay £20 billion to be in the EU??? stevegg
  • Score: 6

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