September 7, 2008

Concern at a&E Ambulance ‘Jams’

By Liz Perkins

Ambulances were queuing up to drop off patients at a stretched Swansea A&E department.

Eight vehicles were waiting to drop off casualties at Morriston Hospital during the jam a week ago.

A health campaigner claims it meant patients were waiting for hours before they were seen.

Ambulance chiefs have confirmed that between 6.10pm and 6.33pm last Saturday, eight ambulances arrived at the accident and emergency department to hand over patients.

The situation resulted in some delays, which hit the time it took for ambulances to get back on the road.

Sketty councillor June Stanton said she was concerned about the hold-ups, and said she feared plans to replace the Singleton unit with a GP-led service would make the situation even more "unsafe".

Trust bosses have said the changes are needed to avoid sudden closures of the unit overnight because of doctor shortages.

Councillor Stanton said: "Eight ambulances were recently waiting outside Morriston Hospital. I was told by a woman that her brother- in-law was rushed in an ambulance, and he had to wait for hours in the queue of eight ambulances.

"It was because they couldn't accommodate the patients in A&E."

A spokeswoman for the Wales Ambulance Service confirmed the delays. She said: "We experienced peaks of high demand in Swansea.

"At one point, between 6.10pm and 6.33pm, eight ambulances arrived at Morriston A&E department to hand over patients. Due to the level of demand, the service did experience some delays, which resulted in the average turnaround time for vehicles being slightly extended.

"Senior managers at both trusts are continuing to work closely together to monitor the service."

A spokesman for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust said despite the problems, it only missed the Assembly's 15-minute hand- over target on three occasions and the service had one of the best figures in Wales.

He added: "Between July 28 and August 18, for example, nearly 99 per cent of patients arriving by ambulance were transferred to our A&E within the Assembly Government's 15-minute target.

"Of course, all A&E departments experience fluctuations in demand when we might need to prioritise patients depending on their needs, but on Monday and Tuesday we achieved 100 per cent compliance on the hand-over target.

"During a busier period on Saturday, we missed the 15-minute target on just three occasions, and just once on Sunday."

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