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UK Patients Waiting In Ambulance Too Long

Armen Hareyan's picture

UK hospitals are accused of keeping patients in ambulance instead of taking them immediately to accident and emergency units (A&E) to meet four hour time allocated for each patient.

The investigation by Observer examined data from 11 England ambulance centers who responded to questions. All the centers reported patient waiting, 7 of them reported 44000 wait cases during the past 15 month period. The data show there is at least one hour delay for almost all cases.

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Meanwhile, it is estimated by Department of Health that ambulance should arrive within 15 minutes after emergency call. A spokesman reported that these 15 minutes even include time for cleaning and preparing vehicle to the next call, and the actual time 999 callers wait before ambulance arrival is from 5 to 10 minutes.

Despite of the estimated time, last year had 14700 reported cases of patients waiting for ambulance up to an hour, 332 of these patients waited more than two hours.

According to the investigation, some patients have had to wait up to 5 hours in ambulance until A&E admitted them. Among the waiting patients there have been patients with breathing difficulties, broken limbs. Meanwhile, well equipped and staffed hospitals are trying to meet estimated waiting time.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The turnaround time does not reflect just the time spent by patients in the ambulance before being admitted to accident and emergency time but also time spent cleaning, restocking and readying the ambulance to go back out on the road. Four years ago, almost a quarter of patients spent more than four hours in A&E - now, over 98% are seen, diagnosed and treated within four hours of their arrival."