Doctors say that Ambulance waiting times are endangering patients

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Although long ambulance waiting times are nothing new, the BBC has recently reported that there has been “a 77% rise in the most serious safety incidents logged by paramedics in England over the past year, compared to before the pandemic”.

This is shocking when you learn that for an incident to be classed as a serious safety incident, the incident must have “potentially” caused long-term harm or even death!

The BBC advise that there were “551 serious safety reports filed by ambulance staff in England between March 2021 and February 2022, up from 312 in the same period before the pandemic”.

The data provided depends upon the incident being reported by staff. There may be many more incidents which are not reported and therefore not included in the statistics.

According to the BBC, all of England’s major ambulance trusts are under severe or extreme pressure and waiting times are the highest they have ever been in the last five years.

There are delays in ambulances attending 999 calls but there are then further delays in transferring the patient from the ambulance to the emergency departments.

Patient safety should be paramount. We can see from the evidence provided by the BBC what effect the lack of investment in the NHS has impacted on the ability to provide safe and prompt treatment to injured patients when they are at their most vulnerable.

Amanda Cavanagh, Associate at Ashtons Legal, comments: “The statistics are shocking. We have all seen the long queues of ambulances outside emergency departments waiting to deliver patients. This is not just an ambulance trust issue. The Department of Health and Social Care surely needs to investigate why so many professionally trained and dedicated health care workers leave the NHS. Fixing staffing levels as a priority will no doubt exponentially increase patient safety and decrease these avoidable incidents of harm.”

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