Frustration as queues of ambulances forced to wait at A and E

Ambulances queue at RPH
Ambulances queue at RPH
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This was the scene at one of Lancashire’s busiest A&E departments as the crews of nine ambulances were stuck waiting to hand over their patients.

It is understood paramedics had to wait up to 198 minutes before staff were able to hand over their patients at the Royal Preston Hospital.

The North West Ambulance service says on Boxing Day it saw a 15 per cent increase in red calls – patients in a serious and potentially life-threatening condition – compared to the previous Monday.

A spokesman added: “When our life-threatening calls rise we attend and take more people to hospital which creates ongoing challenges for our health partners with busy, pressured emergency departments.

“This can result in ambulance crews having longer handover times and we can’t get back on the road quickly enough to respond to waiting patients. To free up more resources to attend life-threatening emergencies we are treating more people at home and directing them to a more appropriate healthcare service to prevent the need for an ambulance journey to hospital.”

“There are only a limited number of ambulances available at any one time which is why we launched the #MakeTheRightCall campaign last winter.

“This encourages the public to support us get to those most in need by only dialling 999 for life-threatening and potentially life-threatening incidents.”

It comes at a time the service reportedly has the highest number of vacanies for paramedics in the country.

It currently has 204 vacancies, and the service has recently recruited paramedics from Finland and Poland.

She added: “There is a recognised national shortage of paramedics. Over the past year we have placed a great focus on recruitment as we have introduced the opportunity for our Emergency Medical Technicians to progress their career development and undertake the necessary training to become paramedics.

“We are also working closely with North West university partners to develop training routes for future candidates to become paramedics.”