Hospitals across England have been ordered to “immediately stop any delays for ambulances” piling up outside A&E units to hand over patients as an ambulance trust warned today that the problem was “catastrophic” .
The message from Mark Cubbon, the chief operating officer of NHS England, was sent to executives Tuesday evening after it was discovered that a patient had died while waiting in an ambulance outside Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for over an hour.
At a meeting of the West Midlands Ambulance Service board of directors on Wednesday, Nursing Director Mark Docherty told chiefs that patients would die before paramedics could reach them due to hospital delays.
The West Midlands service, like ambulance trusts across the country, has had a record 999 calls while crews outside the NHS trusts have also been delayed for hours. Data from LatestPageNews shows that in September in the Midlands, 5,752 ambulances waited more than 60 minutes for patients to be delivered.
In July, CEO Anthony Marsh told staff there was no question that it would harm patients.
At today’s board meeting, the ambulance trust raised its risk level to 25 – which is a “catastrophic” effect of delays.
Nursing Director Mark Docherty said, “We know patients are harmed,” adding that some “die before we reach them”.
“This is a totally unacceptable situation for us … We know for a fact that we are causing harm to patients and that the harm is significant. And the definition of 25 (risk level) is that the damage is almost certain – and it will be catastrophic. I think we are in this place now. “
The board was told that the service lost nearly 15,000 hours of paramedic time due to handover delays of more than 30 minutes in October alone. This is the tallest it has ever seen.
Over the summer, all 10 rescue trusts in England had to report incidents due to unsustainable pressure. This resulted in the government requesting the military to drive ambulances and answer 999 calls.
Soldiers were also used in Wales and Scotland.
In his email to the Chiefs Tuesday night, Mr Cubbon said NHS England would enable daily reporting from NHS trusts to NHS England on the situation they are facing in order to “provide a clearer picture of capacity and deliver to us help respond to the effects of further waves on demand ”. from Covid-19 “.
Commenting on ambulance delays in A&E units, he added, “I understand that there are significant ongoing challenges. We therefore asked trusts and [integrated care systems] make quick plans to stop all delays immediately. “
His email did not go into detail on how hospitals could achieve this.
Earlier this month, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told a press conference on Downing Street that he did not believe the pressure on the NHS was unsustainable.