UK & World News

  • 10 August 2014, 6:14

'Full' Hospitals Leave 300,000 Queuing Outside

Hundreds of thousands of patients are being left at the doors of A&E in ambulances because hospitals are too full.

Figures obtained by Labour show more than 300,000 patients in need of emergency care were caught in queues of ambulances last year.

Some 279,207 ambulances were delayed for more than 30 minutes in England during 2013-14.

Another 30,601 had to wait longer than an hour, Labour said.

The party sent Freedom of Information requests to all 10 ambulance trusts in England.

Among the replies was the revelation that one patient in the West Midlands was forced to wait for eight hours and 11 minutes.

Another in the South West waited for seven and a half hours.

Labour said "handover delays" occur when ambulance crews cannot transfer patients because of staff or bed shortages.

Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: "Under David Cameron, hospitals are full to bursting and he's forcing ambulances to queue at the doors for hours on end.

"Thousands of vulnerable people, many of them elderly and frightened, are being wrongly held in the backs of ambulances because hospitals don't have the space. And yet ministers deny that A&E is in crisis.

"People know from their own experience that the NHS is heading downhill on David Cameron's watch. It is clear the Tories can't be trusted with it."

NHS England said handover delays reduced by 30% in 2013-14.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "People rely on ambulances coming quickly in life and death situations and long handovers are completely unacceptable.

"We're already making good progress in reducing the number of patients waiting for 30 minutes or longer - down by almost a third last winter - though there's always more the NHS can do.

"We are providing extra support, including 28m for ambulances from funds already given to the NHS this year, to keep services sustainable year-round. In the long-term, we want to reduce demand by looking after people better in the community."

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