Patient waits 62 hours for ambulance in ‘UK’s worst delay’

A patient was forced to wait 62 hours for an ambulance in the worst delay in the UK, an investigation has revealed.

The study found that the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) had the longest delays of any NHS trust

WAS kept four patients waiting for more than 50 hours, including one who suffered a delay of 62 hours – or two-and-a-half days.

But it says the data is "not telling the full story" and the figures are at the "extreme end of the waiting time spectrum".

Ambulances from four trusts took more than 24 hours to respond to 999 calls, according to figures that the Patients Association has called "extremely concerning".

The figures, obtained by the BBC and from June 2017 to June 2018, show that some of those patients were suffering from breathing and mental health problems.

But the trusts insisted that the longest delays were for "less serious calls" that were bumped back due to ambulances responding to calls with a higher priority, such as people in life-threatening or urgent conditions, the BBC reported.

Most trusts said they met the national target of responding to the most serious calls in an average of eight minutes or less.

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Addressing the cases where patients waited more than 50 hours, a spokesperson for the Welsh Ambulance Service told Mirror Online that many of them were already in the care of medical teams, while other calls were hampered by extreme weather.

The spokesperson said: “This is a case of the data not telling the full story.

"The challenges of the 2017/18 winter across the whole NHS system are well documented and we fully accept that a number of patients waited far longer than anyone would like. Similarly, we fully understand how distressing any wait for assistance can be.

“That said, these figures represent the extreme end of the waiting time spectrum and are neither typical nor do they explain the circumstances of these individual cases."

The spokesperson added: “At the Welsh Ambulance Service, we take the care of our patients extremely seriously and have looked in detail at each of the cases to which these data refer.

"Many of these are cases which involved hospital transfers where patients were safely in the care of medical teams.

"In other cases, extreme weather conditions had an inevitable impact on response times, but the majority of patients received support and advice from our clinical contact centre staff and clinicians in the interim.

“We continue to work hard to deliver the best possible service to our patients and, while recognising that there is always more to do, we would like to reassure the public that cases with waits of this magnitude are highly unusual and are generally the result of a specific set of circumstances which is not always evident from the raw data.”

The total number of ambulance calls in the UK increased by 15 per cent between 2015 and 2017 – from almost 8.9m in 2015 to 10.2m in 2017, the study found.

Lucy Watson, from the Patients Association, told the BBC: "Everybody should be getting the services that they need.

"We know that demand has gone up on all health services as our population is getting older, and we need to see the level of investment increasing so our ambulances can respond in a timely way."

Mirror Online has contacted NHS Improvement for comment.

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