A Kirklees paramedic has blasted hospital capacity and revealed the past week has been the worst for A&E delays in their 36-year career.
The deepening NHS winter crisis has prompted a frustrated ambulance worker to blow the whistle on poor care in Yorkshire.
The source has painted a bleak picture of the level of service for frail and ill people across the county with a chronic shortage of staff and a lack of vehicles compromising care.
The veteran medic says hospitals have been so full that crews have been left waiting for hours wherever they try and drop patients.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) paramedics now work across the whole county and the paramedic says the situation has been bad everywhere.
Ambulance crews have to wait with their patients until staff at the hospital are able to take them.
Handover delays are recorded by the NHS and termed as “turnaround time” by YAS staff.
In an email to the Examiner on Thursday evening, the paramedic source said some crews due to start at 2am on Wednesday had no ambulances to use as they were all stuck at hospitals waiting to offload their patients.
“This week has been the worst for turnaround that I have experienced in my 36 years,” said the source.
“This morning we took an HD8 patient to Barnsley and waited two-and-a-half-hours to handover, making us two-and-a-half-hours late to finish.
“The longest wait to hand over was nine hours.
“That is just for the patient to be triaged by the nurse and then they wait many more hours to see the doctor.
“ Huddersfield and Calderdale A&Es were very bad on Monday and Tuesday with regular ambulance waits of two hours.
“Hospital staff were very frustrated.
“There were at least 29 patients at HRI A&E waiting to be admitted with no beds available at 6am on Wednesday morning.
“The opening of the day surgical unit at the infirmary as an 11 bed ward has temporarily eased pressure but the weekend is approaching and things will deteriorate again .”
The medic said the recent policy change of admitting all elderly patients in Kirklees and Calderdale to HRI was also causing problems.
They said many had dementia and needed constant supervision.
“A&E is not a suitable environment for them to be in for ten hours or more waiting to be admitted or returned home,” said the source.
“Re-admissions are becoming more common, as patients are discharged who are barely managing and then they deteriorate, or fall, or simply can’t manage and are returned to the A&E.
“In the past if a hospital was full they would divert the ambulances to another hospital, but due to services being moved to different hospitals and all hospitals being full, due to a gradual reduction in beds over the years, alongside a growing elderly population, this can no longer happen.”
The paramedic urged anyone who wasn’t suffering an emergency to avoid going to A&E.
They said: “I would strongly advise any person who is considering attending A&E to self care if possible .
“Ringing 111 doesn’t always help as they will send an ambulance for any mention of chest pains or change in breathing, often inappropriately.
“The publicity on the national news will hopefully make people think twice about attending A&E and reduce pressure.
“The danger is that ill people will be put off ringing and suffer as a consequence.
“I’m afraid this problem is a combination of a lack of resources, an ageing population, unrealistic expectations, 111, a reduction in beds and an outbreak of Norovirus at HRI.”