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Nurse warns of patient risk as neighbour dies after wait for care

Others say care is being compromised as emergency department waiting times spiral and paramedics are unable to respond promptly to urgent calls 

Others say care is being compromised as emergency department waiting times spiral and paramedics are unable to respond promptly to urgent calls

A nurse who was unable to save the life of a neighbour who waited two hours for an ambulance fears others will die due to spiralling pressures in emergency care.

Her warning comes after ambulance services in England were put on the highest level of alert due to ‘extreme pressure’, including huge delays in handing over patients to swamped emergency departments (EDs).

Care compromised as emergency departments are swamped

Emergency nurses say ED waiting times are the worst they have ever seen and care

Others say care is being compromised as emergency department waiting times spiral and paramedics are unable to respond promptly to urgent calls

Photo of ambulances lined up outside a hospital
Ambulances queuing outside Birmingham City Hospital emergency department Picture: Alamy

A nurse who was unable to save the life of a neighbour who waited two hours for an ambulance fears others will die due to spiralling pressures in emergency care.

Her warning comes after ambulance services in England were put on the highest level of alert due to ‘extreme pressure’, including huge delays in handing over patients to swamped emergency departments (EDs).

Care compromised as emergency departments are swamped

Emergency nurses say ED waiting times are the worst they have ever seen and care is being compromised. Some told Nursing Standard that patients are regularly treated in corridors as teams struggle to find beds on wards.

Community nurse Claire, who did not wish to share her surname, witnessed the crisis first-hand when her neighbour collapsed.

While waiting two hours for paramedics to arrive, the man went into cardiac arrest. Despite performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Claire was unable to save him.

‘It was a category two call; they should’ve been there in 18 minutes,’ she said. ‘I did everything I could, but obviously you think about things after and whether anything could have been done to create a different outcome.’

Two crews from the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) arrived 90 minutes later and attempted to resuscitate the man, but he was later pronounced dead, she said.

People dying unnecessarily due to ambulance delays

Claire, who has worked as a community nurse for almost 30 years, said she did not blame the ambulance service. ‘They’re working under incredibly difficult circumstances and I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to do their job with these situations that they’re facing,’ she said.

‘But patients are dying who might not have done if the ambulance had been able to get to them in time.’

WMAS apologised for the length of time it took crews to arrive, but said extreme pressures in the emergency department meant staff were getting held up in handovers.

‘Sadly, the pressures we are seeing in health and social care lead to long hospital handover delays, with our crews left caring for patients that need admitting to hospital rather than responding to the next call,’ said a spokesperson.

A recent UK-wide survey of emergency department clinical leads by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) also found two thirds were not confident their organisation would be able to cope safely this winter.

NHS England has been contacted for comment.


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