Ambulances are struggling to admit their most seriously ill patients into A&E on time while other patients are waiting longer to be seen.
That’s the dismal picture at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, as the NHS reveals it worst figures for waiting times in the service’s 68-year history.
Both ambulance crews and A&E teams have been missing their patient turnover targets as both hospitals record an ‘unprecedented demand for A&E care’.
According to NHS guidelines, ambulance crews must admit 95% of the most serious cases into an emergency department within 15 minutes of their arrival.
WATCH the journey from Holme village to Calderdale Royal Infirmary below
But one in five (78.7%) ‘category A’ patients were not checked-in within the target handover time, at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, in February.
Category A includes red one (heart attacks and imminent life-threatening traumas) and red two (suspected strokes and breathing difficulties).
And after handing over their patients, 95% of ambulances are expected to be ready to respond to new emergencies within a further 15 minutes.
But this NHS target was also missed at the two hospitals in February with just 72.4% of ambulances at the two hospitals ready to respond to further calls.
And in the two A&E departments patients were waiting longer to be seen.
Under NHS guidelines 95% of patients admitted to A&E must be treated, transferred or discharged with four hours.
Plans for emergency care explained below
But in March, the CHFT missed its target for a third month running, achieving 89.3%.
Trust Director of Emergency Care Mark Davies said CHFT – and the NHS – was experiencing ‘unprecedented demand for A&E care’.
Mr Davies said: “During February we were experiencing very high numbers of patients coming into A&E as did all trusts across the country.
“We have excellent relations with YAS and work closely with them to ensure our patients are looked after safely and receive the very best care from us all working together once they arrive at A&E.”
Mr Davies repeated his appeal for people to only use the A&Es for genuine emergencies.
He said: “As, with the whole of the NHS we have seen unprecedented demand for A&E care. At busy times we have to prioritise those patients who are sickest or most in need and on some occasions this means that less seriously injured patients have to wait a little bit longer.
“We would take this opportunity to ask members of the public to consider other alternative healthcare options such as pharmacies, GPs and the NHS 111 service whenever it may be possible.”
Nationally, performance on ambulance calls, A&E waiting times, referral to treatment times and delayed transfers of care were all at their lowest levels since figures began being recorded in March, according to NHS England, as the service saw record levels of demand from patients.
Just two-thirds of red one ambulance calls were responded to within eight minutes in March, the 10th month in a row in which the standard of 75% has not been met.
In A&Es, just 87.3% of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival.