No patients died as a result of winter ambulance delays, analysis says

An ambulance crew attended the scene of the crash in Easton. Picture: SIMON PARKER

An ambulance crew attended the scene of the crash in Easton. Picture: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

No patients died as a result ambulance delays during the winter but three people did suffer severe harm, according to independent analysis.

Robert Morton, the chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Picture: SU ANDERSON

Robert Morton, the chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) responded to more than 100,000 calls from December 17 last year to January 16, and delays of up to 16 hours were reported by patients in the region.

A list leaked by a whistleblower in January claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to ambulance delays, which led to debate in the House of Commons suggesting 81 patients may have died due to the delays.

The trust denied this said out of 138 cases examined over that period, only 22 were regarded as “serious incidents”.

Analysis by senior independent clinicians from local NHS services has concluded that no patient died directly as a result of ambulance delays in those 22 cases.


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The trust has written to apologise to the three patients who suffered severe harm, along with their families, and says it will do so again to explain what happened.

A risk summit, convened by NHS England and NHS Improvement on January 30 in response to concerns about ambulance services in the east of England over winter, required an independent analysis of the cases.

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Robert Morton, chief executive of the trust, said: “Firstly, on behalf of the trust, I would like to apologise to every family involved.

“We welcome the review and we will learn from each and every case. It was right and proper for this to be raised in the House of Commons, and we thank NHS England for their strong leadership in this matter.

“By working as a system, we can make changes to reduce the likelihood of this happening again in the same way.”

A review of the 22 serious incidents will be available after a public meeting of the trust board this month.

Dr Tom Davis, medical director for EEAST, said: “We are clearly saddened that delays in ambulance responses meant patients waited much longer than they should have done.

“I am making sure each of the families affected is contacted to talk through their loved one’s case.”

Looking to the future, the trust says its new investment plan would address the evidence-based gap between capacity and demand over the coming years.

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