1.5 million patients have been delayed in ambulances

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has revealed new research which shows that almost 1.5 million patients have been delayed in the back of ambulances in the past three years.

Data shows that 503,887 people were delayed more than 30 minutes in the back of ambulances last year, in so called ‘handover delays’, despite guidance stating that patients should be handed over to hospital staff within 15 minutes of arriving at hospital. Of these, 79,352 people were delayed more than 60 minutes.

Over the past three years, the number of people delayed over 30 minutes is close to 1.5 million. Ambulance handover delays can be caused by lack of capacity in accident and emergency departments and delays can pose an increased risk to patients.

Recent freedom of information requests found that last year alone over £68 million was spent on private ambulances by ambulance trusts in England. The data also showed that that there has been a 17 per cent increase in the amount spent on transporting patients to hospital by taxi, up from £17 million in 2017 to £19.9 million in 2018.

Ashworth said: “This is damning evidence of the crisis our NHS has been pushed into after a decade of cuts. Many of these patients will be elderly in desperate need yet they have been left waiting and waiting. It’s a disgrace and comes after cuts to 17,000 hospital beds under the Tories. You can’t trust Boris Johnson with our NHS but you can trust Labour to deliver the standards of care patients deserve with our £40 billion cash rescue plan.”

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