Paramedics have been reportedly told to leave severely ill patients in chairs or trolleys at overcrowded A&E waiting rooms, a news report claimed. The latest guidelines for the London Ambulance Service state that staff should spend a maximum of 45 minutes outside hospitals.
Due to a shortage of beds or staff in the hospitals, hundreds of ambulances are wasting hours every day queuing outside A&E.
However, this means that paramedics cannot get back on the road to answer new 999 calls.
The email from NHS London bosses to hospital managers in London, seen by ITV, said: “If the patient is clinically stable, the ambulance clinicians will ensure the patient is on a hospital trolley or wheelchair/chair and approach the nurse in charge of the emergency department to notify them that the patient is being left in the care of the hospital.”
Although the move will help ambulances get to 999 calls quicker, it will add to fears that patients are being left in corridors and chairs with no one monitoring them.
Richard Webber, a spokesman for the College of Paramedics, spoke of waiting five and a half hours in the back of an ambulance with a man in his nineties who had internal bleeding and needed care last week.
On at least two occasions, while he was with other patients, calls came over the radio to respond to cardiac arrests.
He said: “I know at that point in time there were probably all of the ambulances in my local area queued outside the hospital.”
On Tuesday, Steve Barclay, the health secretary, claimed that the ambulance handover delays were largely driven by hold-ups in social care provision.
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Asked if the Prime Minister thought the NHS was in crisis, the spokesman said: “This is certainly an unprecedented challenge for the NHS brought about, as I say, by a number of factors – most significantly the global pandemic.”
On Tuesday Mr Barclay held a meeting with Ms Pritchard and Prof Stephen Powis, the NHS’s medical director, in which they were told to make more use of “virtual wards” – with patients monitored at their home – and “discharge lounges” so those well enough to leave did not take up hospital beds.