NEARLY 21,000 patients over the span of two weeks were stuck in ambulances for more than half an hour because of overcrowded hospitals, NHS England figures revealed yesterday.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth warned of a “winter of misery” caused by a shortage of bed spaces after the stats showed that 20,818 people were left waiting in vehicles for over 30 minutes between November 20 to December 3.
Of those, 4,014 patients were stuck outside for more than 60 minutes.
Ambulances are meant to hand over patients witin 15 minutes.
There were 50 A&E diverts, when packed emergency departments are forced to close their doors to new arrivals, across the country during that fortnight.
Mr Ashworth said: “After an inadequate Budget for the NHS, healthcare leaders warned of an imminent and unprecedented winter crisis.
“The data reveals a stark picture of what lies ahead — a winter of misery for patients and unparalleled pressures on our NHS staff.
“Our new analysis of ambulance diverts reveals the dire impact Tory underfunding is already having on thousands of patients unable to promptly access A&E departments right across the country.
“Some trusts are already completely full with no spare beds, an extremely worrying indicator of what is still to come particularly after NHS Improvement’s explicit warning that handover delays ‘should not occur’.”
He said ministers must explain why the “small pot of winter pressures funding” in the Budget had not gone to struggling trusts.