‘Due to ambulance delays’ over 32,000 people got hurt

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By Creative Media News

  • Ambulance handover delays harm 32,000 in May
  • 10-hour waits in ambulances increasing
  • Call for improved prevention and home care

NHS chiefs have warned that more than 32,000 people in England could have been harmed in just one month as a result of ambulance handover delays.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) also stated that the number of patients who may be forced to suffer 10-hour waits in the back of an ambulance before being offloaded to hospital staff had increased in a year.

Senior EMS authorities stated that patient handover delays should not be ‘the new standard.’

Ambulance handover delays occur when ambulances arrive at A&E but cannot pass over patients to staff because the units are full.

This also means paramedics cannot return to the road to treat additional victims.

A handover delay does not always imply that a patient must wait in an ambulance.

People may have been transferred to the A&E department, but no staff were available to complete the handover from paramedics.

According to national guidelines, patients who arrive at an emergency room by ambulance must be handed over to A&E staff within 15 minutes.

According to NHS data, two-thirds (66%) of May ambulance handovers occurred within this period.

Anna Parry, managing director of AACE, stated: “AACE has consistently warned that there is no room for complacency over the frequency and length of hospital handover delays, which our latest data shows continue to cause significant harm to patients and the well-being of ambulance employees while depleting vital ambulance resources.”

This is why one of our main requests to the new government has been that they proactively support the ambulance sector’s goal of ensuring that all patients receive high-quality, timely care and that there are no longer unacceptable delays in response or care handover, such as at hospital emergency departments.

According to AACE data, ambulance hours lost due to hospital handover delays of more than an hour have increased tenfold in the last five years.

Ms Parry stated: “Delays of 30 minutes or more increased by 7,000 between April and May 2024 to reach 104,000, the sixth highest volume to date, while just under 500 patients experienced handover delays of two hours or longer every day of May 2024.

Worryingly, 148 patients encountered handover delays of 10 hours or more in May 2024, more than double the figure from May 2023.

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‘We estimate that 32,000 patients were potentially harmed due to hour-plus handover delays in May 2024 and that the industry missed the equivalent of 101,000 ambulance duty cycles, where thousands of patients could have been treated.

‘This translates to almost 16% of all face-to-face ambulance responses for the month and is unsustainable.’

Ms Parry stated that a’ strong focus on prevention and providing more treatment closer to home, away from hospital emergency departments, will have a particularly significant influence on decreasing – and eventually eliminating – hospital handover delays.’

According to the most recent NHS data, the average ambulance response time for category one calls involving the most urgent life-threatening illnesses or injuries was 10 minutes and 8 seconds. The desired time is seven minutes.

The response time for category two calls, emergencies such as serious burns, epilepsy, and strokes, was 32 minutes and 44 seconds. This is more than twice as long as the 18-minute target.

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