NHS under huge strain as A&Es turn away ambulances


NHS under huge strain as A&Es turn away ambulances

Hospitals are under “enormous strain”, growing so busy they are having to divert ambulances to other sites.

20 NHS Accident and Emergency departments in England issued diverts in the past week alone.

A&E departments taking new patients have seen long delays, with more than 25% of ambulances waiting at least 30 minutes to hand over patients.

Pressures are partly caused by the high number of Covid patients currently in hospital.

Current figures are close to the total seen in the first Covid wave – however, more than half of those patients are in hospital for other reasons and have covid as a secondary illness.

Hospitals are also said to be seeing rising number of people coming forward for other conditions, including flu.

Similar levels of diverts and delays have been seen on a weekly basis since the turn of the year.

The current delays being seen at A&E departments are worse than those seen in the winter before the pandemic hit, which was considered the most challenging winter for many years.

Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said: “We’re very concerned about the real pressures across the whole health and care system.

“A very high number of hospital beds are occupied, and combined with staff absences and severe workforce shortages, this means that trusts can’t recover care backlogs as quickly as they want to.

“Ambulance services are doing everything they can in these extremely difficult circumstances, but the extra pressures are leading to growing delays to handovers to busy emergency departments.

“This means that ambulances aren’t able to get back out into the community as quickly as they would like.”

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Ellie joined Gi Media in July 2021.