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Ambulance delays triple in a week, reveals new NHS report

Ambulance delays triple in a week, reveals new NHS report

New NHS Winter data have revealed that ambulance delays have more than tripled in a week across England.
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NHS Winter data have revealed that ambulance delays have more than tripled in a week across England.

From 25 December to 31 December, the number of patients waiting more than 60 minutes to be seen in Accident and Emergency (A&E) rose from 242 to 852.

‘Intolerable pressures’

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that ‘staff are working at full capacity to deliver the right care, but the pressures are becoming intolerable.’  

He said: ‘Figures from the last six weeks show the number of people arriving at A&E has remained fairly consistent – but today’s results highlight the increasing number of people experiencing delays in ambulances as they arrive.

‘The stats also mask the pressures which can be seen across all parts of the system - in social care, community and mental health services, as well as at the hospital front door and in our ambulance services.

‘These delays cause distress to patients and their families but emergency departments are seen as a litmus test for the rest of the system.

‘If the health service cannot cope at its front door, what lies behind it will also be struggling.’

During this week of festive period, less than half a million people called NHS 111, a 21% increase on the previous week, revealed NHS England.

In the meantime, trusts operated on average at 92% bed occupancy, far above the recommended 85% limit, and the number of patients staying more than 21 days in hospital increased by 3,773.

‘Overstretched system’

Commenting on the figures, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chair, said: ‘These figures paint a clear picture of just how congested and overstretched the system is and is further evidence that pressure on the NHS continues to intensify.

‘The winter months have always have been more of a challenge for the NHS, but in recent years the pressure on staff and services has reached new levels with patients unfairly bearing the brunt of long waiting times and cancellations.

‘We urgently need more long-term planning to ensure the NHS can meet rising demand on services and has the capacity to deal with the inevitable spike in demand each winter.’ 

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