»»NHS pay­outs soar to £6.5m for pa­tients held up by 999 de­lays Due in 8mins.

»»Num­ber of crit­i­cally ill wait­ing over 60mins DOU­BLES in one year

Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­COLA SMALL

THE num­ber of crit­i­cally-ill pa­tients wait­ing over an hour for am­bu­lances has more than dou­bled in a year.

Paramedics took at least 60 min­utes to reach 6,096 peo­ple re­quir­ing vi­tal treat­ment for car­diac ar­rests, strokes and other con­di­tions be­tween April 2016 and March 2017, shock fig­ures show.

All were 999 calls clas­si­fied as the “red” high­est pri­or­ity, which should have been an­swered in eight min­utes.

The to­tal – equiv­a­lent to around 17 pa­tients ev­ery day – is well over twice the 2,746 “red” pa­tients who waited more than an hour in 2015/16.

The fig­ures, de­scribed as “ab­so­lutely hor­ri­fy­ing” by union of­fi­cials, rep­re­sent only six out of 10 of Eng­land’s trusts – so the true to­tal will be even higher.

Ex­perts, who warn such de­lays “clearly im­pact” on pa­tients’ sur­vival chances, blame them on a num­ber of fac­tors – in­clud­ing hos­pi­tals be­ing so full that when am­bu­lance crews ar­rive at A&E they can­not off­load and re­spond to other calls.

Other rea­sons in­clude despatch­ers as­sign­ing the “red” pri­or­ity to far too many cases and burned-out crews quit­ting and not be­ing re­placed. Mean­while a grow­ing el­derly pop­u­la­tion cou­pled with lack of in­vest­ment and cuts to so­cial care add to the cri­sis.

A Sun­day Mir­ror probe found 42 med­i­cal neg­li­gence claims against am­bu­lance trusts were set­tled last year for de­lays in reach­ing hos­pi­tal. Fig­ures ob­tained from the NHS Lit­i­ga­tion Au­thor­ity show £6.5mil­lion was paid out to set­tle such claims in 2016/17.

This com­pares to 2012/13, when £812,000 was paid out for 26 claims.

In cases ex­posed by our Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest, paramedics work­ing for North West Am­bu­lance Ser­vice took 108 min­utes to reach a 71-year-old woman in car­diac ar­rest, 89 min­utes to get to a baby with life-threat­en­ing breath­ing prob­lems and 150 min­utes to re­spond to a 40-year-old woman who had taken an over­dose.

At South Cen­tral Am­bu­lance Ser­vice, a woman in her six­ties whose life was in dan­ger from sep­sis waited 66 min­utes and a man, also in his six­ties, suf­fer­ing a life-threat­en­ing com­pli­ca­tion of di­a­betes

Dad worked hard all his life but when he needed the NHS it failed him ALAN WILCE ON DEATH OF HIS FA­THER JOHN, 86 We had a high level of re­quests... crews were wait­ing at hos­pi­tals AM­BU­LANCE SER­VICE ON PENSIONER WHO DIED

QUEUE­ING Am­bu­lances of­ten get ‘stuck’ at A&E

LET DOWN John, 86, lay wait­ing for hours

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