Huge jump in ambulances turned away from A&E

Published on Thursday, 30 May 2013 13:05
Posted by Scott Buckler

Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, calls on Jeremy Hunt to suspend all on-going A&E closures pending a personal review of the very latest evidence

NHS staff will today travel to Parliament to provide front-line accounts of A&E pressures as new figures reveal the scale of the growing crisis in A&E.

Information provided to Labour from the House of Commons Library shows a major increase in the number of occasions that A&Es in England were forced t o close their doors to blue-light ambulances. Last year, the number of 'A&E diverts' jumped by almost a quarter - 24% - as hospitals reached capacity and were unable to cope with new ambulances.

Over recent weeks, hospitals including the Queens Hospital (Romford), Whipps Cross (Waltham Forest), Princess Royal (Bromley), Lewisham Hospital, Northwick Park, Newham, and King Georges (Ilford) have all turned ambulances away.


These diversions have occurred either when the ambulance is on the journey to hospital or in some cases after they have arrived. This wastes time for patients with emergency conditions before they can receive hospital care.

On Bank Holiday Monday, the Royal Liverpool Hospital had to divert patients to Fazak erley Hospital and Whiston Hospital for periods during both the morning and afternoon. Even when it re-opened ambulances had to queue and patients faced long-delays.

With the pressure on A&E showing no sign of abating, Labour has called an emergency A&E Summit inviting NHS staff from a range of disciplines to give evidence to MPs - including ambulance staff, A&E doctors, nurses, GPs and community staff.

Today's Summit will hear directly from staff about the pressures they face on a day-to-day basis. Participants will also be invited to discuss the causes and potential solutions.

Labour will use tomorrow's discussion to draw up a plan to present to the Government to tackle the growing pressure. However, in advance, it is calling on Jeremy Hunt to suspend all on-going A&E closure proposals pending a personal review by the Secretary of State of the very latest evidence.

Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, said:

"A&Es across the country are in crisis and the pressure shows no sign of abating.

"Today we have yet more evidence that the situation has deteriorated significantly on this Government's watch, with ambulance diverts up by a quarter in the last year.

"This is a crisis of their own making. Instead of casting round for others to blame, David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt need to accept responsibility and develop an urgent plan to relieve the pressure.

"Labour is today calling on the Health Secretary to suspend all planned A&E closures pending a personal review. The facts on the ground are changing fast and call into question the wisdom and safety of closing so many A&Es across England.

"If convincing evidence can be produced to show lives can be saved by closing A&Es, Labour will not oppose them. But, as the pressure builds, the case is changing and the Health Secretary must err on the side of caution. The onus is on him to produce convincing evidence or drop these plans.

"Labour is calling an emergency A&E Summit today as we want to hear directly from front-line staff about the pressures they are under. Too many hospitals are sailing dangerously close to the wind and MPs need to hear first-hand about the reality on the ground.

"The Summit will look at the causes of the crisis and discuss solutions. Coming out of it, Labour will present practical proposals to the Health Secretary which could help staff at the front-line.

"David Cameron and his Health Secretary have been caught out looking for scapegoats rather than finding solutions. They must cut the spin and get a grip without delay."

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