Ambulance services are under ‘unprecedented pressure’ Tracy Nicholls, chief executive of the College of Paramedics said yesterday morning, with hand-over delays at a scale never seen before.
Crews are waiting up to nine hours to transfer a patient into hospital, she reported, while there are also cases of emergency patients waiting ‘up to 10 hours’ for ambulances to arrive.
Nicholls told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: ‘It (the ambulance service) is under unprecedented pressure. We are very used to seeing ambulance services take some strain over the winter months due to the normal pressures we would see any particular year.
‘But this year particularly has seen incredible pressure because of the clinical presentation of the patients our members are seeing. They are sicker.
‘We are seeing the ambulance hand-over delays at a scale we haven’t seen before.’
She added: ‘Our members have reported to us they can wait as little as half an hour. We’ve had some members wait five, six, seven, eight and even nine hours.
‘But that doesn’t even take into account the huge number of patients that are waiting for an ambulance that can’t get to them.’
Meanwhile, British Medical Association Chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said yesterday: ‘This is the worst we have known it.
‘We are used to having what we call winter crises every year, but this isn’t like anything that doctors have experienced in recent times.
‘We are seeing more patients with serious illness than in any years in the recent past.
‘We know that all regions are now seeing more Covid patients in hospital than in any period during the peak of the first wave.
‘We know that in London for example there is a major incident that has been announced by the Mayor because the projections are that by the 19th of January we may be 2,000 beds short.
‘This means that patients are being diverted to other hospitals and that will also have a knock-on affect as those hospitals become over-full.
‘So we really are on the brink and it’s a very serious situation. I should also mention that we mustn’t forget the impact of all of this on patients that do not have Covid.
‘There’s a report today that suggests that 10,000 fewer patients with non-Covid conditions were seen last week in the NHS and there are reports that we’ve seen a drop of about 50% of patients with cancer being treated and with many reports of cancer treatments being delayed and scans being delayed.
‘So while we are focussing on these deaths of patients with Covid we musn’t forget that there are many other patients with serious illnesses that are also being impacted and who also may not be surviving because of these pressures.’