North West ambulance response times and A&E waits lay bare crisis in NHS, figures show

Video report by ITV Granada Reports correspondent Rob Smith

Ambulances across the North West take around 10 minutes on average to respond to the most urgent incidents, new figures show.

The data from NHS England reveals the national average to respond to the incidents, such as cardiac arrests, is around 10 minutes and 57 seconds.

The target is seven minutes.

On average the North West recorded a response time of nine minutes and 58 seconds, the third best in the country behind the North East on eight minutes and 51 and West Midlands which was nine minutes and 14 seconds.

For Category 4 - non-urgent but needs assessing - the North West has the second longest wait, with an average of six hours and 14 minutes.

Ahead of the Ambulance Service strike this week, Paramedic David Robb told ITV Granada Reports how hard it is for staff having to wait hours to discharge patients from hospitals.

Figures also showed the proportion of patients seen within the four-hour target in England's A&Es fell to a record low of 65% in December. 

A record 54,532 people waited more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in December - a number recorded from the decision to admit to actually being admitted.

Ann O'Connor tells Elaine and Gamal why some our regions hospital trusts are struggling

How did the North West fare?

East Cheshire NHS Trust recorded the lowest number seen within the four hour window, with just 47%. Bolton NHS Foundation Trust recorded 49.1%, while the Countess of Chester was at 49.5%.

When it comes to A&E 1,306 people waited more than 12 hours in Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The figure was 1117 people in Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and 1053 people in East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

'Patients ring their doctors for help in frustration for help'

Speaking on Monday, 9 December, Liverpool GP Rob Barnett told ITV Granada Reports that many patients waiting in A&E will phone their doctors for help in frustration.

"I'm not sure what needs to happen for politicians to accept we're in a mess," he said.

Discharge figures

A record average of 14,069 hospital beds per day last week (up to 6 January) in England were occupied by people ready to be discharged.

It is up from 12,809 the previous week and compares with 11,795 at this point last year.

Just 38% of patients ready to leave hospital were actually discharged, up slightly from 37% the previous week.

North West England had the lowest rate of discharges - just 28% - meaning 72% were not discharged when ready.

Some trusts discharged only around one in 20 medically fit patients, with rates as low as 6% at Southport & Ormskirk Hospital, and just 5% at both Liverpool University Hospitals and Stockport Foundation Trust.

In a statement a spokesperson for The NHS in The North West said: "The NHS across the country, is going through a period of exceptional pressure, with demand for services at exceptional levels, the North West Region is no different.

"We are working with partners across our health and social care systems, including those in local Government to address the challenges we continue to face around discharge and ensure system-wide responses are in place across the North West.

"In addition, we continue to urge the public to support us where a loved one in hospital is ready to be discharged and they can assist in helping get them home as soon as practically possible to free up beds for urgent patients.

"The public can also help us manage the high demand we are seeing by ensuring you are seeking help from the most appropriate health services, using NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care for your needs, and only attending A&E if seriously ill or injured. This will help us keep those services free for those that need them the most.”

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