It has been reported that the West Midlands Ambulance Service has been on its highest alert since March even as there has been an increase in the number of deaths owing to ambulance waits in the region.
Between March and May, 38 people have died as against just two in the same months in 2021. In the same period in 2019 before the pandemic, there were no deaths recorded.
The West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said the waits were due to paramedics being delayed outside A&E departments and unable to hand over patients.
Also, in data obtained by BBC WM following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, figures show that June had the highest ever monthly number of lost hours attributed to A&E handover delays and July is predicted to be worse.
Director for nursing for WMAS, Mark Doherty in may predicted that the service would collapse by August 17 if hours lost by crews delayed outside hospitals kept increasing.
This is in the wake of intense pressures faced by services across the country.
At Worcestershire Royal, BBC Newsnight found 15 ambulances were waiting for up to four hours before a researcher was ordered off the premises. This is so much more than the national guidelines which states that handover should be completed in 15 minutes, with no patient waiting more than 30.
Figures on hours lost by crews delayed outside A&E provided by the WMAS revealed the following.
- In 2019, 6,835 hours were lost in total over the year
- In July 2021 alone, the tally was 17,186
- In April 2022, 35,957 hours were lost
- June 2022 was the worst month on record with 38,373 lost hours
- July is predicted to have a total of 46,641
The country’s current heatwave has made matters worse for ambulances who were particularly on Wednesday put on the highest alert level as a result of extremely high demand.
WMAS said it had been on the same alert since March.
Bosses of ambulance services in the West Midlands have apologized to several families as a result of the delays in getting patients to the hospital including a 59-year-old man in Stoke-on-Trent who died after collapsing in June.
Wayne Francis in Shropshire said in May, that he had to do CPR for 35 minutes while waiting for an ambulance for his mother who died.
Martin Flaherty, the managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said that the current pressures on ambulance services were unprecedented and had been building for some time.
In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said it recognised pressures faced by frontline NHS staff and that the NHS has allocated £150m of additional funding to address pressures on ambulance services, adding that the number of ambulance and support staff had increased by almost 40% since February 2010.
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