NHS chief says that patients are being put at risk of harm due to ambulance handover delays. West Midlands Ambulance Service or WMAS has increased its risk rating for delays of ambulances to the highest level, and this is the first time that this has happened.
NHS Asks Ambulance to Stop Delays
The risk rating shows that most of the patients are harmed due to the delays in ambulance handover. The director of nursing and clinical commissioning, Mark Docherty, said that it was a completely unacceptable situation.
The warning comes as a patient died after waiting for more than 5 hours in the back of an ambulance in Worcestershire, according to BBC.
At a meeting on Oct. 27, the ambulance service's board of directors heard the amount of time being lost to delays had reached previously unseen levels, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Docherty said that they expect the situation to get worse over the next few months because of winter pressures. He said that despite everything that they are doing and all of their efforts, they know that there are still delays that harm the patients.
Docherty said that they are aware that there are patients that are under significant harm. Through their review of the recent deaths, they know that some patients died even before they got to the hospital.
Docherty added that more front-line resources had been deployed to help assist more patients.
However, Docherty said that if they follow the trajectory that winter follows, they can predict that things are only going to get worse, and they will lose a lot of hours in the wintertime.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how they will be able to respond to some patients in a fixed time frame.
According to the meeting, in September alone, 1,375 hours were lost by crews that were stuck outside the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, while at Princess Royal, that number of lost hours was 768. They contributed to more than 16,000 lost hours across the West Midlands in September.
Wendy Farrington-Chadd, the WMAS deputy chair, said that they find the numbers disappointing and that there should be a stronger push for better solutions.
Meanwhile, hospitals in England have been ordered to remove ambulance queues outside hospitals following the death at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and another death of a patient in an ambulance outside Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridgeshire.
A letter from the NHS to all hospitals showed that handover delays represent an unacceptable clinical risk, according to Sky News.
The risk affects both patients waiting in ambulance queues and those that are in the community whose emergency care is delayed.
The managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, Martin Flaherty, said that the ambulance sector is experiencing some of the highest levels of emergency activity in its history.
The association is still concerned about the unexpectedly high levels of hospital handover delays that are happening across the United Kingdom.
COVID-19 Cases in the UK
According to Evening Standard, the United Kingdom recorded 40,954 new COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 27. There was a total of 263 death recorded.
The number is the highest recorded since March of this year. Despite the increasing numbers, the UK has already lifted its COVID-19 restrictions.
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Written by Sophie Webster