‘Distressing’ facts add to winter fears
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.”