Author: Laura Armstrong
A recent Freedom of Information Request by the BBC to the 13 ambulance service Trusts in the UK has highlighted worrying delays in reaching patients who have made 999 calls.
Patients with life threatening conditions are supposed to be reached in under 8 minutes in accordance with NHS guidelines, however only 1 out of the 13 Trusts is currently meeting this target. The average response time in Northern Ireland is over 10 minutes and over 8 minutes in England.
In East Midlands patients are waiting on average 1 minute and 42 seconds longer for an ambulance than they did last year.
These delays can be attributed to increasing demands on the ambulance service, as the total number of 999 calls has soared year on year. Last year 9.4 million calls were made, which has nearly tripled in a decade.
Delays have also been experienced in the ambulance crews handing over patients at A&E, as A&E staff are also under pressure and often aren’t available to accept handover of patients as soon as they arrive. The Freedom of Information request shows that over 500,000 hours of ambulance crews’ time was lost waiting for handovers last year, which is a 52% increase on the previous year. This also reduces the amount of ambulance crews available to answer 999 calls.
In some areas of the UK ambulances are even running out at peak times.
Whilst the pressure on the ambulance service is clear, this can have worrying consequences for seriously ill and injured patients who are left waiting for ambulances to get them the lifesaving treatment they urgently require.
If you have any concerns about care provided to either you or a family member by the ambulance service, or in any clinical setting, and would like advice about the possibility of making a claim then please contact us.