A&E chaos, ambulance delays and bed shortages fuel fears of winter NHS crisis

  • Ambulances dubbed ‘wards on wheels’ after fears the NHS will suffer this winter
  • One in three patients waited at least 30 minutes to be handed to A&E 
  • Sunak to meet NHS ‘soon’ to ensure plans to cut ambulance waits have a ‘real impact’

Fears the NHS will suffer its worst winter are ‘fast becoming reality’ as it struggles to deal with ambulance delays, bed shortages, A&E chaos and a chronic staffing crisis.

Ambulances are becoming ‘wards on wheels’ as one in three patients (23,999) taken to hospital last week waited at least half an hour, instead of the 15-minute target, to be handed over to A&E.

There are a record 133,000 vacancies in England, according to NHS Digital. One in seven hospital beds last week, an average of 13,364 a day, were taken by patients fit for discharge, up from 10,510 in the first week of December 2021.

Ambulances are becoming ‘wards on wheels’ as one in three patients (23,999) taken to hospital last week waited at least half an hour, instead of the 15-minute target, to be handed over to A&E

Rishi Sunak said he would meet the NHS ‘relatively soon’ to ensure plans to cut ambulance waits have a ‘real impact’

Dr Adrian Boyle, Royal College of Emergency Medicine president, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Last week we recorded an excess mortality across all of the UK of about 900 extra people. There are lots of causes of this, but we think that problems with urgent and emergency care is probably contributing to about a quarter of this.’

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: ‘These new figures show the NHS is facing a perfect storm… We have already said we expect this to be the NHS’s most challenging winter yet.’

Rishi Sunak said he would meet the NHS ‘relatively soon’ to ensure plans to cut ambulance waits have a ‘real impact’.

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