Ambulance Wait Times Increase In South East by 36%

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has described the large increase in time that ambulances are waiting to offload patients in parts of England as ‘off the scale’.

Data recently leaked to the BBC details ambulance waiting times at hospitals in South East England having risen by 36% in December compared to data covering the same period in 2019.

The South East Coast Ambulance service saw an increase of 2,071 hours of queuing time outside hospitals in December 2020, losing a total of 7,803 hours.  Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent has seen ambulance waiting times doubling during the same period.

Adrian Boyle, the Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine advised that ‘It’s not because more ambulances are being called, it’s because the amount of time they’re spending outside a hospital has increased’.

In a recent BBC interview, one paramedic advised that he had come across instances of patients having to wait up to 12 hours for an ambulance to arrive in the past week.  One example was of a patient with a broken leg in London having to wait outside for six hours before an ambulance was available to collect him. This is added to figures indicating that at one point on Monday this week, more than 700 individual patients were waiting for an available ambulance.

Both the London and South East Coast Ambulance Services told the BBC that they were doing everything they could to increase staffing numbers in order to respond to patients within the community.

With NHS staff at all spectrums of the pandemic response under unprecedented pressure, fears are mounting in respect of patient safety and equally that of our healthcare workers.  As onlookers to this increasingly alarming situation, it is our collective duty to observe lockdown rules and social distancing measures (Hands, Face, Space).


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Carrie Plummer - Editor & Content Manager


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