Thousands left waiting in ambulances
The number of patients left waiting more than an hour in ambulances outside A&E departments has quadrupled in the last two years.
Bed-blockers in hospitals have been largely blamed for the rise, which in the financial year 2016/17 saw almost 12,000 people enduring long waits outside emergency centres across the south east. The figure was almost 9,000 lower in 2014/15.
A&E consultant Adrian Boyle said: “There are lots and lots of people waiting in hospital who could be looked after either in their own home or in a residential care facility.
“That means the hospital’s full, the emergency department’s full and we can’t offload ambulances.”
The South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has responded to the figures, which were obtained by the Labour Party.
A spokesman said: “Handover delays at hospital continue to be a significant issue, which severely impact on our ability to respond to patients in the community.
“We will continue to work closely with our staff, all hospitals and other NHS partners to reduce delays.”