Ambulances wasted 790 days waiting for patients at hospitals in Lincolnshire last year, new figures show.
Patients are expected to be handed over by the ambulance service within 15 minutes after they arrive at hospital, but the target is being badly missed.
The annual report by the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) revealed that they had lost 72,132 hours to handover delays.
EMAS said that they had lost 18,971 at hospitals across Lincolnshire alone.
Brian Jaffrey, paramedic and ambulance operations manager for Lincolnshire, said: “When our ambulances are waiting to hand over patients at hospitals they are unable to respond to 999 calls.
“Subsequently, patients in the community can experience a delayed response to their 999 call until we have an available resource.
“We continue to work with our NHS and social care partners, including our partners across Lincolnshire to improve the welfare of our patients and the patient’s experience.”
Handover delays are also believed to have an impact on ambulance staff wellbeing, morale and sickness levels.
Michelle Harris, deputy director of operations urgent care in Lincolnshire, said: “At times when our A&E departments get extremely busy we can run out of space, which means ambulance crews have to wait until they are able to safely hand patients over to us.
“We are working closely with our colleagues at East Midlands Ambulance Service and NHSi to look at where we can improve our handover response times.
“This includes a trigger point which alerts EMAS to send an operational lead to the A&E to assist with releasing the crews so that the ambulance crews can return to supporting emergency calls as quickly as possible. We are already seeing a benefit from this measure.”