Patients asked to find their own way to the hospital due to ambulance delays

Patients asked to find their own way to the hospital due to ambulance delays

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Emergency callers have been told they cannot be picked up at one ambulance trust in England, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported. An internal note at North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust ordered call handlers to “consider asking the patient to be transported by friends or family” if a delay seemed likely. This included category two calls, such as possible heart attacks and strokes.

The trust’s medical director Dr Mathew Beattie told the HSJ it had seen an 80 per cent rise in Covid-related staff absences in the last six days. The same problem means bosses in charge of hospitals in Greater Manchester have now decided to pause some non-urgent surgery and appointments.

Around 15 per cent of the region’s workforce is off either ill with Covid or isolating, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said. Cancer and urgent care patients, including those due to undergo cardiac surgery, vascular surgery and transplantation, will not be affected.

Fiona Noden, chief executive of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and co-chair of Greater Manchester Hospital Gold command, said: “This has been a very difficult decision and not one that we have taken lightly, but we’ve done it so we can keep people safe, can maintain the very best infection control measures and can make sure we deploy staff to where they’re needed most.”

Meanwhile, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said at least half a dozen hospital trusts have now declared a critical incident as they struggled with high demand and staff absences.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that as of yesterday, the affected trusts included Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital, Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and The GreatWestern Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Swindon.

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