Hospital users fear several ambulances seen queuing outside Pilgrim Hospital for long periods on a regular basis could lead to fatalities.
Parents Sarah Stock and Samantha Broome have both witnessed ambulances queuing for long periods at the Boston hospital on several occasion in recent weeks.
Sarah Stock, a NHS campaigner for Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire, took her daughter to Pilgrim Hospital after a referral from Grantham Hospital the same evening for an X-Ray. Her daughter had shut her fingers in the door and an X-ray was needed to check for broken bones.
During her visit on August 1, she claims there were seven ambulances queuing up to get in to A&E.
Sarah said this is causing delays to others waiting for ambulances.
She said: “There were patients still on them, because every bay was full, along with corridors and many from Grantham, because you can hear everything people are saying through the curtains.
“She had an X-ray, no bone injury and she needed the trephining doing to release the pressure under the nail bed, a simple procedure, which could have been done at Grantham. A similar situation happened in June when there was seven ambulances, two paramedic cars and a police car outside. One of the ambulances had a screaming, distressed toddler inside and that was a Sunday afternoon at 4pm.
“This isn’t the first time either, when I visited last year there was nine waiting. We were there all day and some of the ambulances and crew were too. Fourteen paramedics waiting to hand over their patients to an over-subscribed A&E.
Samantha Broome, mum of one, claims she has seen queues of ambulances lined up waiting to admit patients.
She said: “I counted eight ambulances in the queue. If the ambulances are sat waiting for ages then they can’t get to emergencies. This will end up costing lives. I know everywhere is stretched but it needs sorting out before there’s deaths that could have been avoided.”
East Midlands Ambulance Service says hand over times have halved in the last three months.
EMAS reported the average time was 50 minutes compared to the Government target of 15 minutes but now it’s closer to 25 minutes.
Sue Cousland, general manager for Lincolnshire at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “We are continuously working with all of our NHS, which includes United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, to ensure patients are transferred safely and in a timely manner when they arrive at hospital. This ongoing work, which will continue on the run up to winter, is vital to ensure that our crews are able to get back on the road as quickly as possible, to respond to new 999 calls as swiftly as possible.
“We have worked closely with the staff at Pilgrim Hospital in particular who have introduced the role of pre handover practitioners to take care of patients once they arrive in the department. We have also refined some of the technology used to ensure handover is as efficient and safe as possible.”
United Lincolnshire Hospitals’ Trust say its aware of the issue and are working to rectify the problem.
Director of operations at ULHT Simon Evans said: “We are still experiencing a large volume of patients attending our A&Es, particularly in light of the recent hot weather.
“Over the last few months we have launched a new initiative to improve our ambulance handover times. There is still work to be done, but we are already starting to see some good results and the times are consistently coming down. At Pilgrim, the average arrival to handover time has improved by 29 minutes since March (53% decrease).
“We would like to thank our colleagues at EMAS for their co-operation and by working together I am sure we can improve the times even further for the benefit of our patients across the county.
“Our message to patents remains the same, please only attend A&E if absolutely necessary. Consider contacting your GP, local pharmacy or ring NHS 111 in the first instance.”