London Ambulance crews will only wait 45 minutes handing patients over at A&E

London Ambulance Service will only wait 45 minutes before handing patients over to A&E, it has been revealed.

An email leaked to ITV News shows plans to tackle delayed handovers and ensure ambulances are back on the roads for 999 calls.

Other ambulance trusts across the country are struggling to deal with emergency calls, with delays admitting patients to A&E playing a major role.

The NHS Standard Contract for 2021 to 2022 sets a target ‘all handovers between ambulance and A&E must take place within 15 minutes, with none waiting more than 30 minutes’.

But immense pressure on the NHS means patients are increasingly left stuck in ambulances for hours.

A mismatch between a hospital’s capacity and the number of patients arriving at A&E include some of the issues.

The leaked email, understood to be from NHS England’s urgent and emergency care lead for London and sent to hospital managers says: ‘From January 3 we are asking that any patients waiting for 45 minutes for handover… are handed over immediately to ED (emergency department) staff allowing the ambulance clinicians to leave and respond to the next patient waiting in the community.

‘If the patient is clinically stable the ambulance clinicians will ensure the patient is on a hospital trolley or wheelchair/chair and approach the nurse in charge of the emergency department to notify them that the patient is being left in the care of the hospital and handover the patient.’

The email says if the patient is not clinically stable, ambulance crews will stay until handover is achieved – but added the responsibility lies with the hospital.

It said the current ‘operational challenges’ in the NHS are ‘very significant’ and ‘this is a difficult time for everyone’.

Figures from the NHS show 37% of handovers in the week to Christmas Day were delayed by at least 30 minutes, down from 41% the previous week but higher than the 13% recorded at that point in 2021, and 11% in 2020.

NHS palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke said on Twitter the plan was unsafe.

She wrote: ‘This isn’t safe. This isn’t a solution. There aren’t the ED beds, the ED doctors, the ED nurses, the ED spaces. Or is the proposal here merely to pile up more patients in ED corridors?’

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: ‘This move shows the shocking reality of the NHS crisis and is yet further proof that a major incident must now be declared across London.

‘The health secretary must act now to save the capital’s hospitals from being overwhelmed.

‘Corridors and waiting rooms are already full with patients coping with severe pain. The government cannot wait any longer to act.

‘London’s NHS is collapsing before our eyes. Ministers have spent months arrogantly dismissing or ignoring all warnings from senior health leaders and MPs.

‘This is now a life-and-death situation for Londoners. The government needs to recall parliament immediately, declare a major incident and above all else, pass a plan to get the country out of this health crisis before more people die.’

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