Concern at ambulance waiting times.

Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse has raised concerns over the way that ambulance waiting times are reported, citing that the current system underestimates the wait for an ambulance.

In the past, the Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent investigation into England’s ambulance services and a review of ambulance station closures more generally.

In Bath, there have been several cases of patients waiting hours for an ambulance with one gentleman forced to sleep on the floor of a church whilst waiting for an ambulance that took 12 hours to arrive. At the end of last year, a 91-year-old had to wait seven hours for help after a fall at home. 

Monthly figures show that the NHS continues to face unrelenting pressures. Whilst the pandemic has contributed to the current situation, the number of patients enduring long waiting times has been increasing for the past five years. 

Earlier this week, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine published a report which found that in 2021 on average over a thousand patients waited in A&Es for 12 hours or more from their time of arrival every single day. 

Wera Hobhouse MP commented: 

“Ambulance waiting times are soaring. The Conservatives are burying their heads in the sand, trying to wish the problem away. Waiting times for ambulances are spiraling out of control. 

“It is disastrous that our local NHS services are under such severe pressure. We need real investment in our area with a robust plan from the Conservatives to correct the situation immediately. The Conservatives have taken people for granted for too long and we are saying local people pay the price. 

“We need urgent action otherwise the Conservatives will have blood on their hands. There is no doubt that sky-high waiting times are impacting the health of the British public. Paramedics and the whole health service are working extremely hard under huge pressure with overstretched resources yet the Conservatives are not doing anything to act. 

“We must have a debate on the long waiting times for urgent and emergency care services.” 

A transcript of the exchange is below 

Wera Hobhouse MP

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has published a report, “Tip of the Iceberg” indicating that waiting times in accident and emergency and access to emergency care are a lot worse than officially reported. That is down to a reporting mechanism that only counts the time from DTA—decision to admit—made by a responsible clinician, which is often hours after a patient first arrives in A&E. The college found that in 2021, on average over 1,000 patients waited in A&E for 12 hours or more from time of arrival every single day. May we have a debate in Government time on this hugely concerning and important issue?

Mark Spencer MP, Leader of the House of Commons 

I would welcome a debate. That is why the Government introduced the health and social care levy to give the NHS investment to cope with the covid backlogs, and why we are doing NHS reform. I do not understand why the hon. Lady did not support that NHS investment through the health and social care levy. I only hope that she will have another opportunity to put the record right and to support the Health Secretary as he brings forward reforms to make the NHS more efficient.