July 4, 2022 9.33 am

‘Immense pressure’: Ambulance service missing every response target

Hospital handover delays are part of the problem

By Local Democracy Reporter

The East Midlands Ambulance Service, which covers Lincolnshire, is missing every response time target, with hospital handover times causing severe delays.

Ambulances are missing targets across all categories of calls, from life-threatening to non-urgent, sometimes leaving patients waiting hours.

East Midlands Ambulance Service says they are under “immense pressure” and aim to prioritise the most seriously ill.

Figures from the services’ 2021/22 annual report show how high demand and hospital handovers are causing severe delays .

It takes EMAS crews an average time of just under nine minutes to respond to Category 1 life-threatening calls, despite the target being seven minutes.

People who dialled 999 for a Category 2 emergency would wait an average of over three-quarters of an hour – more than double the target of 19 minutes.

For Category 3 and 4 (Urgent and Non-Urgent) EMAS aims to get to 90% of patients within two and five hours respectively. However, nine in ten were still waiting more than six hours later.

The crisis has been partly attributed to handover delays which are forcing ambulances to wait for hours outside hospitals.

Some 125,000 hours were lost across the service in 2021/22 – more than double the previous year.

EMAS said the handover delays are a sign of the widespread pressure on health and social care systems, and it’s working with the NHS to address staffing pressure and improving patient flow.

Neil Scott, Head of Operations for Lincolnshire at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “We are currently experiencing immense, sustained pressure on our service and our staff are continuing to work hard to prioritise the sickest and most severely injured patients.

“We continue to work closely with all our health and social care colleagues across Lincolnshire in response to the on-going high levels of demand being experienced across the wider NHS system.

“We urge the public to play their part by calling 999 if life is at threat, and to use alternative services such as 111 online, GP, pharmacies or urgent treatment centres for other concerns. This allows us to respond to patients who need our ambulances with highly-skilled clinicians and life-saving equipment on board.”