Thursday, 26 May 2022
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Thursday, 26 May 2022

Serious concerns over ambulance waiting times for heart and stroke patients

BRITISH Heart Foundation have responded to reports of average ambulance waits of over an hour for heart attack and stroke patients.

The Health Service Journal recently reported that ambulance waiting times – already too long – have increased again in the last month.

Average response times for a category two ambulance – which are called to suspected heart attacks and strokes – have risen to over 70 minutes, the latest figures show. This is nearly four times the 18 minutes target.

In one region, average waits for a category two ambulance have reached as long as two hours in recent days. 

At the same time, long handover delays to overcrowded A&E departments are increasingly commonplace. 

British Heart Foundation analysis suggests that in the week ending 27 March, around one in four patients arriving at the hospital by ambulance experienced delays of 30 minutes or more.

Rising staff absences and shortages, over-stretched ambulance services, and increasing numbers of Covid hospitalisations are adding up to an NHS in crisis across the UK.

We are continuing to call for a specific and fully funded recovery plan for all aspects of cardiovascular care, including emergency care. The plan must commit to addressing the shortage of heart disease doctors, nurses, and physiologists.

A matter of life and death

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, British Heart Foundation’s Associate Medical Director and Consultant Cardiologist, said: 

“Every minute matters when someone has a heart attack or a stroke, but month on month, we are seeing dangerously long ambulance response times and harmful delays to treatment in overcrowded A&E departments. This is a matter of life and death. 

“We are seriously concerned that this crisis is now worse than ever with no sign of improving, despite health workers doing all they can for every patient. 

“If you think you might be having a heart attack or stroke, please don’t hesitate – call 999 immediately so trained call handlers can advise you. It could save your life.”

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