East Anglian ambulance trust notches up longest 999 wait to attend patient - 24 hours and 54 minutes after the call went in

PUBLISHED: 17:20 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:20 24 August 2018

Joyce Saunders, 95, of Soham, who is both deaf and blind, waited 11 hours for an ambulance after falling over at her home.

Joyce Saunders, 95, of Soham, who is both deaf and blind, waited 11 hours for an ambulance after falling over at her home.

Archant

The longest wait for an ambulance in England has been recorded by the ambulance trust that covers Cambridgeshire, with one patient waiting more than 24 hours for one to arrive.

Letter from East Anglian Ambulance Service Trust EEAST about Joyce SaundersLetter from East Anglian Ambulance Service Trust EEAST about Joyce Saunders

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust, which provides ambulance services for Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, saw one patient wait 24 hours and 54 minutes for an ambulance after making an emergency call – the worst wait in England.

The figures, obtained via a BBC freedom of information request, show this time was the worst in England in the year June 2017 to June 2018. The Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, however, recorded one that was even longer, with one patient having to wait 62 hours, three minutes.

EEAST say there are simply not enough staff or resources to cope with increasing demand, and that cases must be prioritised to make sure patients needing urgent care are dealt with first.

This means less urgent patients need to wait longer before an ambulance can attend.

Letter from East Anglian Ambulance Service Trust EEAST about Joyce SaundersLetter from East Anglian Ambulance Service Trust EEAST about Joyce Saunders

A spokesman for EEAST said: “With a growing volume of 999 calls for conditions not deemed life-threatening or urgent, and a need to focus on our sickest patients first, less life-threatening calls do wait during exceptionally busy periods – there were more 999 calls than there were ambulances, so our sickest patients had to be prioritised first.

“We continue to check in on these patients where appropriate, including suggesting alternative appropriate options such as 111.”

There are now hopes that more staff and further investment in emergency vehicles will improve the waiting times.

“An independent service review confirmed there was a gap between demand and available capacity,” the spokesman said. “New investment will mean more recruits and ambulances will, over time, support response improvements.”

Joyce Saunders at the grave of her father in Radlett, Hertfordshire.Joyce Saunders at the grave of her father in Radlett, Hertfordshire.

Cambridgeshire MEP Alex Mayer said the figures made her worry about what might happen if there is another “winter crisis”. She said the long waits were not a reflection on the hard work of ambulance staff, but said the trust needed to have more help from government.

Ms Mayer said: “At the start of the year we had an emergency investigation into whether ambulance delays caused the deaths of patients in the East of England. We were promised improvements.

“This is no reflection on our hard working ambulance staff. These professionals need to be given the tools to do their lifesaving jobs.

“I’m worried if our ambulance service is missing targets in the summer and the p“I’m worried if our ambulance service is missing targets in the summer and the possible problems that could occur if there is another winter crisis. The Government needs to better resource the whole NHS.”

• View Joyce’s story, click here.

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