London24NEWS

Ambulance handover delays might have harmed 32,000 individuals in a single month

  • Nearly 500 patients had delays of two hours or longer on each day of May 2024 

More than 32,000 patients may have come to harm in May alone due to ambulance handover delays, NHS chiefs have warned.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said these occur when ambulances arrive at A&E but are unable to transfer patients to staff due to busy units — and paramedics cannot get back on the road.

It does not always mean patients wait in an ambulances, though. People may have been moved into A&E, but staff were not available to complete handovers.

National guidelines state this should take 15 minutes.

Anna Parry, AACE managing director, said the organisation ‘has consistently warned… over the frequency and length of the hospital handover delays’ and that data shows ‘significant harm’ is being done to patients.

Ambulance handover delays may have left 32,000 patients in harm while having to wait for paramedics in May alone, NHS chiefs have warned (file photo)

Ambulance handover delays may have left 32,000 patients in harm while having to wait for paramedics in May alone, NHS chiefs have warned (file photo)

Although national guidelines say handovers from ambulance personnel to hospital staff should take 15 minutes, patients can wait longer due to busy units

Although national guidelines say handovers from ambulance personnel to hospital staff should take 15 minutes, patients can wait longer due to busy units

Just under 500 patients had handover delays of two hours or longer, each day of May 2024

Just under 500 patients had handover delays of two hours or longer, each day of May 2024

It is calling on Labour to tackle the problem. AACE data suggests ambulance hours lost to handover delays of more than an hour are now ten times greater than five years ago.

Ms Parry said delays of 30 minutes and more rose by 7,000 between April and May 2024 to hit 104,000. 

Just under 500 patients had handover delays of two hours or longer, each day of May 2024. And 148 patients suffered delays of ten hours or more in May 2024, over double that of May 2023.

She added: ‘We estimate 32,000 patients experienced potential harm as a result of hour-plus handover delays in May 2024 and during the same month the sector lost the equivalent of 101,000 ambulance job cycles, where thousands of patients could have been attended.’

‘The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.