‘Dis­tress­ing’ facts add to win­ter fears

Hamilton Advertiser - - NEWS -

Doc­tors’groups de­scribed the grow­ing num­ber of long waits across the UK as“very dis­tress­ing”, amid fears that this win­ter is set to be as chal­leng­ing, if not worse.

In 2017/18, am­bu­lances ar­riv­ing at Scot­tish hos­pi­tals had to wait more than an hour to hand over their pa­tient 10,374 times.

Across the UK, the num­ber of times am­bu­lances had to wait more than an hour to hand over pa­tients to hos­pi­tal has tripled from 60,464 times in 2013/14 to 182,053 times in 2017/18.

Dr Ian Hig­gin­son, the reg­is­trar of the Royal Col­lege of Emer­gency Medicine and a con­sul­tant in emer­gency medicine, said:“it’s very dis­tress­ing for us as emer­gency physi­cians not to be able to re­ceive pa­tients into our emer­gency depart­ment as quickly as they need.

“Queu­ing am­bu­lances are a very clear sign of crowd­ing in de­part­ments, as are queues in the cor­ri­dors.”

In 2017/18, just 41 per cent of calls were handed over by am­bu­lance ser­vices within the 15 minute tar­get time, the low­est pro­por­tion in five years and a drop from 58 per cent in 2013/14.

Dr Hig­gin­son said:“in emer­gency de­part­ments, most can work re­ally ef­fec­tively, be­cause we’ve got some fan­tas­tic staff across the coun­try, what they need is the con­di­tions to work prop­erly — they need enough space to see pa­tients, they need enough staff to see them, and once they’ve seen them, they need to be able to get into beds or go home so there’s space for the next pa­tients.

“There’s noth­ing to sug­gest it’s [this win­ter] go­ing to be any bet­ter and we know we’re go­ing into win­ter with data that sug­gests that hos­pi­tals are un­der more pres­sure than last year. We see noth­ing to sug­gest it’s not go­ing to be more chal­leng­ing.”

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