New figures have revealed that thousands of lives are being placed at risk due to the increased waiting times for ambulance response.
It has been discovered that crews in certain areas are taking almost three minutes longer to reach patients who are seriously ill, including those who suffer strokes and heart attacks. For these people every second is valuable.
A report issued by NHS England stated that the problem is worsened by crews being forced to wait outside A&E departments before they can deliver patients.
These delays are critical since the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest decrease by 10% each minute. Stroke victims have a higher chance of survival if they are treated quickly.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, warned that these figures raise real concerns that the chaos in the NHS is putting more lives at risk. He stated that A&E departments have once again missed the waiting time set by the Government, and have done so for the past 51 weeks. He added that the crisis in the A&E departments have created longer queues of ambulances outside hospital, leaving the next patient facing longer waits. He added that more and more calls are being responded to by police cars and at times, fire engines.
In the past three years, the average response time has increased from five minutes 23 seconds to six and a half minutes.
In the East Midlands, the average has increased by 2.3 minutes to a long and agonising eight minutes nine seconds.
The East of England indicated ambulance response times of more than 2.8 minutes longer for the most serious calls.
Dr Dale Webb from Stroke Association said that when someone suffers a stroke the blood supply to their brain is blocked by a clot or it is damaged by bleeding which causes the brain cells to die. This means that these waiting times results in brain loss.
He said that lengthening the response times of ambulances are extremely concerning for stroke patients as they require specialist treatment as soon as possible.
These new figures come after it was revealed last week that the number of patients who are waiting for NHS treatment has increased to above three million. This is the highest figure for a six-year period.
Image Credit: Graham Richardson