At lunchtime on New Year’s Eve, Sky News counted 24 ambulances parked outside the A&E department at Royal Stoke University Hospital.
A nurse from inside the hospital would go out to check on the patients who were waiting in the ambulances that were receiving care from the paramedics.
An ambulance staff member told Sky News that their official dashboard showed 31 ambulances were stuck waiting to transfer patients at the hospital.
They said the additional seven were to be waiting in the back after all the space in the front of the hospital was taken.
And they said there were currently only 56 ambulances covering Staffordshire, so more than half of the ambulances available to the county were waiting at a hospital.
The incident comes amid warnings from health leaders that wait times at A&E are likely to be the worst on record this winter as hospitals struggle to keep up with demand due to the flu, COVID and strep A.
Figures from NHS England show that last month around 37,837 patients waited more than 12 hours in the ER for a decision to admit them to a hospital department, almost 355% more than the previous year.
And numerous trusts have now declared “critical incidents”, including University Hospitals North Midlands (UHNM), which runs the Royal Stoke University Hospital, as well as South Western Ambulance Service, University Hospitals Trust Leicester, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Buckinghamshire Healthcare, and University Hospitals of the North Midlands.
Mike Gibbons of St John Ambulance has asked people not “getting drunk for the sake of it” when going out for New Year’s Eve to avoid increasing pressure on already struggling services.
The UHNM trust’s medical director, Dr Matthew Lewis, said there is “extremely high demand” for all its services, as attested by Sky News, and said both Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital in Stafford had been “under severe and sustained pressure”. during the Christmas period”.
And it said the “challenging situation” is likely to continue through the New Year bank holiday period, with A&E hit the hardest due to a lack of beds and waits of more than 12 hours for some patients.
Dr Lewis said the hospital would be opening up additional beds and increasing doctor and nursing shifts over the bank holiday period, adding: “We will always do our best for patients and keep patients safe and locally we are working with our NHS and local authority partners to implement measures to ensure that people in need of hospital and emergency care can receive treatment quickly and to identify and use any additional capacity that will allow us to discharge patients and free up our beds.
“We continue to ask the public to help us by using A&E only in a serious or life-threatening emergency and your help when we discharge friends or loved ones to make sure they are picked up from the hospital as soon as possible and have everything they need. what they need at home.
The West Midlands Ambulance Service, which covers Royal Stoke University Hospital, confirmed the vehicle queuing figures, with a spokesperson telling Sky News: “The ambulance service depends on every part of the social care system and health work together so that our ambulances can reach patients in the community quickly.
“Unfortunately, the pressures we are seeing in medical and social care are leading to long delays in hospital handover with our teams staying behind with patients who need to be admitted to hospital rather than responding to the next call.
“The result is that our equipment is slow to reach patients.”
The spokesperson added that the service was “working incredibly hard with all our NHS and social care partners to avoid these delays, looking for new ways to deliver patients safely and quickly so our teams can respond faster and save more.” lives”.