Ambulance crews were unable to respond to nearly one in four 999 calls last month, the most ever recorded, because many were tied up outside A&E waiting to deliver patients, a dramatic new situation. National Health Service show the numbers.
An estimated 5,000 patients in England, also the highest number on record, potentially suffered “serious harm” by waiting so long to be admitted to A&E or simply for an ambulance to show up to help them.
Ambulance officers warned that patients were dying every day directly due to delays, as the service could no longer play its role as a “safety net” for people in need of urgent medical help.
“The life-saving safety net provided by NHS ambulance services is severely compromised by these unnecessary delays and as a result, patients are killed and injured on a daily basis,” said Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Directors Association. Ambulance Executives. (AACE), representing the heads of England’s 10 regional NHS ambulance services.
Flaherty added: “Our national data on hospital delivery delays through October 2022 is extremely worrying and underscores the fact that in some parts of the country efforts to reduce or eradicate these devastating and unnecessary delays are simply not working.”
The association’s latest monthly report on delivery delays, published on Wednesday, reveals that the performance of ambulance services fell to its lowest level in October.
The report shows that 169,000 hours of ambulance crew time were lost during the month due to delays. It meant paramedics couldn’t handle 135,000 calls. That number represented 23% of the total “potential capacity” of ambulance services to respond to 999 calls.
The three totals are the worst in NHS history.
“The ambulance service is collapsed. These figures show that it is on its knees and about to collapse as a result of vacancies, lack of funds, morale at a rock bottom and the demand for ambulance care that has doubled to 14 million calls a year since 2010.” said Rachel Harrison, national secretary. of the GMB union, which represents 15,000 employees in the English ambulance services.
The ability of ambulance services to quickly respond to patients in need of emergency and life-threatening care is increasingly hampered by hospitals that cannot admit people to the ER fast enough. This is because they have nearly 14,000 beds occupied by patients who are fit enough to leave but cannot be safely discharged, mainly because social care provision is inadequate to allow them to go home or enter a hospital. nursing home.
Steve Barclay, the health secretary, has identified transfer delays as one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS. A&E physicians share AACE’s concern that patients sometimes suffer serious harm, and even die, as a result of long delays in their treatment.
The AACE report also reveals that:
18% of ambulance transfers took more than an hour last month, when the NHS target is 15 minutes, a nine-fold increase from the 2% seen in October 2019.
The average delivery time was 42 minutes, 12 minutes more than in October 2021 and 23 minutes more than in October 2020.
The number of one, two, three and 10 hour transfers was the highest ever recorded.
The delays exposed an estimated 41,000 patients to potential harm, of whom some 5,000 were at risk or suffered “serious harm,” including death.
“These numbers are a national embarrassment, but they only confirm what GMB members tell us every day,” Harrison added. “We have ambulances waiting outside hospitals for more than a day, while terrified workers wait and hope their patients don’t die. In fact, a third of GMB ambulance workers believe that a delay they have been involved in has led to the death of a patient. You can’t continue.
The most recent NHS data from England showed that ambulances were taking almost 10 minutes to reach patients facing a life-threatening emergency. The NHS target response is seven minutes.
Dr Sitso Amankwah, a GP in Kingston, London, tweeted on Tuesday about a patient who took an Uber to A&E rather than face a potentially long wait for an ambulance. “That’s good, so not bad enough to need 999,” the GP told the patient. “No, I felt horrible, but…Uber could take me there in less than four hours,” the patient replied. Amankwah added: “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the NHS in 2022.”
a department of Health and the Social Care spokesperson said: “It is clear to the government that the NHS is a top priority and we are making up to £8bn available for health and social care in 2024/25.
“We are providing unprecedented funds to help us get through the winter. This builds on action we’ve already taken, including…delivering 50,000 more nurses, increasing the number of NHS call managers and creating the equivalent of at least 7,000 more beds, to improve the flow of patients in hospitals and get ambulances working again. roads quickly. We will publish a full recovery plan for urgent and emergency care next year.”