Fears of a catastrophe over ambulance delays - The Worcester Observer

Fears of a catastrophe over ambulance delays

Worcester Editorial 8th Nov, 2016   0

AMBULANCE turnover delays could cause a catastrophic failure of the emergency services if allowed to continue rising say 999 health chiefs.

Paramedics say they are being tied to hospitals caring for patients on trolleys, leaving them unable to respond to other 999 calls.

The concerns were voiced at a West Midlands Ambulance NHS Trust board meeting last week over figures which showed handover between ambulance staff and The Alexandra and Worcestershire Royal Hospitals were taking long than the 30 minute target.

The paramedics aim to transfer patient care to the hospital within 15 minutes and prepare the vehicle for the next call within another 15 minutes.

Instead, figures show they have been stuck on these sites for as long as three and a half hours.

They say more than 44 per cent of ambulance trips to these hospitals in September went over target which meant more than 1,800 patients were left on trolleys in the care of paramedics for more than half an hour.

The Alex and the Worcestershire Royal Hospital are among 23 sites covered by the ambulance service but account for 20 per cent of the delays across the region.

However worse that either is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham which has seen a huge delay in ambulance turnarounds, reaching 293 hours over the 30 minute targets.

Sir Graham Meldrum, chairman of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation, has written to both the director of delivery & development NHS Trust Development Authority and the regional director NHS England (Midlands and East) about the issue.

He said: “This situation just cannot be allowed to continue, and we would urge you to take action to protect patients. The current situation needs immediate action if we are to avoid a catastrophic failure of the emergency care systems.”

He has also written to Caragh Merrick, chair of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) and she is to meet with him to discuss his concerns.

Chris Tidman WAHT acting chief executive said: “The majority of A&E departments across the West Midlands have seen year on year increases in patients brought in by ambulance. Despite seeing a 10 per cent rise in blue light patients, Worcestershire Acute has over the last year improved its Handover performance as well as the time to triage.”

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