England

Ambulance A&E wait times double in Yorkshire

YAS control room
Image caption Dr David Macklin said handover waiting times were "a system problem" for the NHS

The length of time ambulance crews spend waiting to hand over patients at hospital accident and emergency units in Yorkshire has doubled in a year.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) figures show medics spent 32,000 hours waiting at A&E departments in 2015-16 compared with 16,000 in 2014-15.

YAS said waiting time "was one of the most significant issues" it faced.

A shortage of available hospital beds has been given as one of the problems causing knock-on delays at A&E.

'Patients wait'

Dr David Macklin, Executive Director of Operations at YAS, said handover waiting times were "a system problem" for the NHS, not just in Yorkshire, and said blame could not be attached to individual hospitals.

"We have numerous occasions where we have multiple vehicles queued at hospitals," he said.

"Emergency departments across Yorkshire are working incredibly hard to manage their demand and that means sometimes ambulances are queuing.

"Patients who are not seriously injured may need to wait."

Professor Keith Willett from NHS England said the increase in waiting times was "concerning" and added there were "a multitude of reasons" for the rise.

"One of the biggest problems is the pressure on the beds in the hospital," he said.

"That's because the hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to move patients and their care back into the community."

Image copyright Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust
Image caption The trust employs more than 5,000 people

The figures were supplied after a Freedom of Information request by the BBC.

Just five hospitals - one each in East, South and West Yorkshire and two in North Yorkshire - accounted for about 70% of the total waiting time.

The handover time is counted only after 15 minutes have elapsed at A&E.

The number of hours spent by the YAS to handover patients was about 12,000 In 2013-14 and about 16,000 in 2014-15.

The top five hospitals for handover waiting times (hours) 2015/6

Hull Royal Infirmary (East Yorkshire) 6,436

Northern General (Sheffield, South Yorkshire) 4,329

Pinderfields (Wakefield, West Yorkshire) 3,954

Scarborough District General 3,831

York District Hospital 3,384

Hospitals with the biggest increases in handover times
Hospital Handover Hours Lost 2014/15 Handover Hours Lost 2015/16 Increase in hours Percentage Change
Barnsley District 318 1126 808 254.1%
Dewsbury District 143 504 361 252.4%
Huddersfield Royal 191 600 409 214.1%
Pinderfields General 1334 3957 2623 196.6%
Northern General 1482 4329 2847 192.1%
Scunthorpe General 106 289 183 172.6%
Bassetlaw District 17 44 27 158.8%
St James University 477 1150 673 141.1%
Doncaster Royal 1040 2363 1323 127.2%
York District 1509 3383 1874 124.2%

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