The BBC recently published an article regarding an inadequate response made by East of England Ambulance Service, and the wider issues surrounding ambulance wait times. In October 2021, nine-year-old Willow Clark fell off her bike whilst cycling through a country path. This resulted in her helmet being cracked and her sustaining a fractured skull, along with a nine-inch laceration across her leg. People passing by the incident called 999 and explained that Willow had sustained a severe head injury whilst her leg was also badly injured. However, they were told that there would be a 10-hour wait for an ambulance and that they would be better to take her to the hospital themselves, which Willow’s family were forced to do so. The family later found out that Willow had been classified as an “urgent” category three case. According to National Standards these types of calls will be responded to at least 9 out of 10 times before 120 minutes. The East of England Ambulance service has now apologised, citing the “significant pressure” they were under on that day, and apologised for not categorising Willow as a more critical category two case.

Willow’s experience with ambulance wait times is not an isolated incident. Data collated by NHS England taken for the seven days to 2 January 2022, showed that 23% of all arrivals by ambulance had delays of 30 minutes or more, which was 19,000 instances. Additionally, 10% of patients waited for over 1 hour to be handed over, which meant those ambulance crews were not available to go and deliver first aid and first implementation of treatment for patients.

The ambulance services and the NHS have been under an unprecedented burden since the COVID pandemic outbreak. After the lifting of the restrictions the demands for ambulance services has risen, with a 20% rise in answered 999 calls in April of this year, to that in April 2019. Furthermore, the national shortage of paramedics, and the delays in Emergency Departments has vicariously impacted the efficiency of ambulance crews across the UK.

This helps to explain how in April crews were responding to a "life-threatening" callout in nine minutes and two seconds on average, significantly above the seven-minute national target. While the response time for a category two emergency, such as a heart attack or a stroke, has risen to more than 51 minutes, almost three times longer than the 18-minute target. Daisy Cooper MP, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson, said: ministers had “turned a blind eye” to the crisis in ambulance services and emergency care that was leaving many patients “waiting in pain and distress”. While the delays can partly be explained, these wait times are ultimately endangering lives and they must return to a national standard that we have accepted to be reasonable.

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For further information in respect of this new story please visit: Ambulance wait times endangering patients, doctors say - BBC News