Patients could be placed in temporary buildings at hospitals amid West Midlands' ambulance crisis

A report by the trust revealed more than 90% of ambulances arriving at City Hospital in May waited more than half an hour. Credit: PA

Patients could be placed in 'portacabin structures' outside two West Midlands hospitals in a bid to solve the region's ambulance crisis.

The measure of setting up temporary clinical areas is being explored by bosses at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust (SWB) in an attempt to solve the long wait times faced by patients in huge ambulance queues.

The trust which runs Sandwell General and Birmingham City Hospital said the portacabin plan would be a "last resort" if other measures such as a staffing boost in A&E departments fail to solve the blockage problem which has left some patients with life-threatening conditions facing long waits for help.

A report by the trust revealed more than 90% of ambulances arriving at City Hospital in May waited more than half an hour, and that figure was around 70% at Sandwell.

Sandwell General Hospital is one of two hospitals which could see patient portacabins set up as a "last resort" measure to ease queues. Credit: PA

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) suffered the worst day in its history for patient handovers last month.

The option of temporary buildings would allow paramedic crews to offload patients so they could get back on the road. In many cases they cannot respond to 999 calls because they are having to wait with patients for hours before handing them over to hospital staff.

Chief Operating Officer of SWB said: "One of the biggest patient safety concerns for emergency care, regionally and nationally, is centred on timely handover of patients conveyed by ambulance to emergency department."

An action plan has set out emergency measures in the run-up to winter including boosting the A&E workforce, instructing nursing staff to act as 'ambulance navigators' and bringing in more hospital ambulance liaison officers to try to get patients handed over more quickly.

The report added: "A review of the available waiting areas adjacent or within the assessment areas is required to understand if this option is viable."

Bosses at the trust that run City Hospital are concerned about the ambulance queues ahead of winter. Credit: PA

On the possibility of temporarily housing patients outside hospitals, Mr Kennedy said: "This would require workforce resource, estates and funding for a temporary clinical area."A number of companies are able to supply portacabin constructions that would serve as clinical areas to hold crews.

"However, one additional option to look at would be retaining a number of equipped ambulance units on site (with clinical resource) who would support crews to offload. This model was utilised in Wales in winter 2021."