News

22.11.17

Ambulance chief blasts A&E after 57 crews delayed by over an hour

A West Midland’s Ambulance Service (WMAS) official, Mark Docherty, has urged health chiefs in charge of the Worcestershire Royal Hospital to improve after delays marred ambulance operations.

In a letter to Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, the director of clinical commissioning complained about long delays which had seen 57 ambulance crews forced to wait more than an hour to hand over patients.

There was also one incident which saw a crew wait for three hours to hand over a patient to hospital staff.

The delays occurred on 10 and 11 November despite a letter sent out to trust executives last week in which NHS Improvement urged hospitals to deal with handover delays.

The warning, co-authored by NHS England, said that delays would increase the risk for both patients on-site and those needing help in the community while major and serious incident response would be significantly worsened.

Following the letter, a WMAS spokesperson commented: “We welcome the content of the letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement last week which was explicit in saying that handover delays are not acceptable. 

“While ambulances are tied up at hospital, it is not the patient who our staff are with that is necessarily at risk, though the individual’s dignity and safety is undoubtedly compromised, the risk, as NHS England have pointed out, is to the patient who we have not yet been able to reach who is at the highest risk of preventable harm. In some cases, it puts their life at risk.”

Worcestershire Royal Hospital, the centre of the controversy, was inspected by the CQC in August but was not removed from special measures after being rated ‘inadequate’ by the regulator.

At the start of the year, inspectors warned that the facility could face administration if it did not improve but has still failed to meet the standards expected by the CQC.

NHE has contacted the Sandwell and West Birmingham, the CCG in charge of the hospital, for comment.

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