Ambulance service ‘very sorry’ for delays as it investigates 22 ‘serious incidents’

The region’s ambulance service has apologised to patients who experienced delayed responses over winter as it investigates more than 20 ‘serious incidents’.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) responded to more than 96,000 calls in 30-days over the festive period.

A spokesman said the organisation has examined 138 cases linked to that time and are investigating 22 as ‘serious incidents.’

He said: “The pressure across the NHS nationally over this winter has been challenging.

“It has meant there are patients who have experienced delayed responses for which we are very sorry.”

It comes after House of Commons debate this month suggested 81 patients may have died due to delays over a three week period.

However, EEAST chief executive Robert Morton in television interviews yesterday disputed the figures but said it ‘rots me to my core’ thinking of patients suffering long wait times.

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He said quicker handover times at hospitals were one of the keys to combatting delays.

He said: “If you have got one third of your ambulances parked in a car park they are not going to be responding to patients in the community...we need to work together to resolve the issues that we all have.”

A spokesman for the EEAST added it was working with NHS partners to improve patient safety.

He said: “Following a risk summit called by NHS England and NHS Improvement, we are making a number of other changes to improve the way we respond to surges in demand working with colleagues in hospitals so our crews quickly get back on the road after a blue light transfer to hospital.

“For example we have increased the number of ambulances by eight across the region daily.

“We also have a new process, which is being introduced across the east of England at the end of the month, aims to get ambulances back out on the road to support patients in the community.

“It sets out clear escalation procedure if ambulance crews have to wait longer than 15 minutes to handover a patient at hospital.

“We have also agreed with our commissioners a significant increase in funding which we will be investing in more staff and vehicles.”