Watchdog launches national investigation into ambulance delays

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The national patient safety watchdog has launched an investigation into “significant patient loss”, forcing ambulances to wait with patients outside A&E, Granthshala has learned.

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The Health and Safety Investigation Branch has confirmed that it intends to launch this year after receiving several alerts expressing concern over the issue.

comes after investigation Granthshala learned that 160,000 patients had either died or suffered loss as a result of delays in ambulance response times during 2020-21, driven by delays in being able to hand over patients to hospitals.


Harmful reports from the Association of Ambulance CEOs included instances of critically ill patients not being treated properly, being forced to go to the toilet in ambulances and being deprived of food and drink, as well as antibiotics and fluids. .

There have been several reports of patients dying while waiting outside A&ES while waiting for an ambulance or in the back of an ambulance. On Friday, the South Central Ambulance Service Trust announced that it had requested military assistance to cope with the extreme pressure.

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in a statement to Granthshala HSIB said: “We believe that delaying handovers poses a serious safety risk, potentially causing significant patient harm and impacts on the well-being of NHS staff. We welcome the review by AACE as they has provided detailed insights and highlighted key safety concerns. HSIB has already received several referrals expressing similar concerns, which will be taken forward for national investigation. We are committed to addressing the challenges arising out of handover delays. Will work with AACE and others in the NHS to help learn systemic safety.

The security watchdog is still in the early stages of its investigation and so it has not been decided how many deaths or incidents of damage it will cover. It will publish details in early 2022.

In March this year, the HSIB published a report warning that patients who suffered a heart attack delayed ambulances could be denied life-saving treatment.

Ambulance response times have been steadily deteriorating since the summer, and an analysis by Bond Turner found that the average response time for patients in October compared to September increased by 25 percent.

According to the report, patients in the Southwest experienced the longest delays for ambulances, waiting on average just over two hours.

Among those most urgently in need of care with a potentially life-threatening condition, patients in Southwest also suffered the longest delays.

Ambulance response times are being affected by increased waits outside A&E, and earlier this year NHS leaders wrote to all hospitals asking them to stop all delays “immediately”.

Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance CEOs, said: “We very much welcome this upcoming national investigation by the HSIB into unnecessary handover delays in hospital emergency departments, which we said in the report published last month. These are avoidable. Handover delays are causing significant damage to a large number of patients on a daily basis and we will work closely with HSIB and provide assistance in their investigations on behalf of the region.”


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