Hospital chiefs blasted by Health Secretary over ‘unacceptable’ ambulance handover delays 


Hospital chiefs blasted by Health Secretary over ‘unacceptable’ ambulance handover delays

  • Health Secretary Steve Barclay summoned NHS trusts over ambulance delays
  • He met with chief executives from the six worst-performing trusts on Tuesday
  • Mr Barclay said examples of 40-hour ambulance waits were ‘unacceptable’ 
  • Three of the six trusts summoned to the meeting are in the South West region 

The Health Secretary summoned the bosses of the six worst-performing NHS trusts for a dressing down over ambulance handover delays.

Steve Barclay met chief executives from Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Plymouth, Leicester, Birmingham and Worcestershire trusts on Tuesday.

After weeks of stories emerging about elderly people waiting up to 40 hours for an ambulance and then being stuck overnight outside hospital, Mr Barclay said such delays were ‘unacceptable’ and were his biggest priority.

He said: ‘There are factors outside your control. I want to work with you to understand what’s in your control and what’s reliant on others.’

Mr Barclay told bosses such delays were ‘unacceptable’ and were his biggest priority.

The Health Secretary summoned the bosses of the six worst-performing NHS trusts for a dressing down over ambulance handover delay (stock image of ambulances queued)

After weeks of stories emerging about elderly people waiting up to 40 hours for an ambulance and then being stuck overnight outside hospital, Steve Barclay said such delays were ‘unacceptable’ and were his biggest priority

After weeks of stories emerging about elderly people waiting up to 40 hours for an ambulance and then being stuck overnight outside hospital, Steve Barclay said such delays were ‘unacceptable’ and were his biggest priority

NHS England identified the six trusts for Mr Barclay based on the largest numbers of hours lost to handover delays and the impact that reducing delays would have on the ambulance service in their areas.

Some trusts’ performance deteriorated recently while others had been poor for years.

Three of the six trusts summoned to the meeting are in the South West region, where there was an emergency care crisis last winter.

In addition, four of them – Plymouth, Leicester, Birmingham and Worcestershire – are on NHSE’s lists of trusts with the worst elective and cancer backlog recovery.

Delays are expected to have led to almost 40,000 patients having come to harm last month, according to national figures published by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives.

Handover delays caused ambulance crews to lose almost 333,000 hours in the 12 months to July 2022 – 18 times more than the 17,600 hours lost during the same period in 2019 to 2020, according to the data.

Delays are expected to have led to almost 40,000 patients having come to harm last month, according to national figures published by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (stock image of ambulances queued outside A&E)

Delays are expected to have led to almost 40,000 patients having come to harm last month, according to national figures published by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (stock image of ambulances queued outside A&E)

Delays are predominantly blamed on A&Es not being able to discharge patients due to a shortage of community beds, causing ambulances to wait for hours outside to unload patients.

Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said last week that the situation was a ‘major crisis’.

She said: ‘The reasonable expectation of a healthcare system is that if you call an ambulance, an ambulance turns up quickly and you get the care you need… we have broken that fundamental promise with the public of being able to do that.’

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