In ambulances wait times in England caused record severe harm exposure

Data for December shows new high of people at harm from waiting outside A&E and as a result of missed 999 calls

Record numbers of patients suffered severe harm last month because they spent so long in the back of ambulances waiting to get into A&E, new NHS figures reveal.

An estimated 57,000 people in England “experienced potential harm”, of whom 6,000 were exposed to “severe harm”, in December – both the largest numbers on record – because they had to wait at least an hour to be handed over to hospital staff, according to NHS ambulance service bosses.

Crews “lost” a total of 227,000 hours through being stuck outside A&E units, double the number of hours recorded just a year earlier.

The average handover time has almost doubled in the last year from 29 to 55 minutes.

In December 140,000 hours were “lost” to delays lasting more than an hour.

Almost one in four (23%) of handovers now takes at least an hour.

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