Paramedics warn of queues of up to '25 ambulances' at Yorkshire hospital
York Ambulance Service staff are warning of risks to patients who should be treated at Hull Royal Infirmary as ambulances are being diverted to Scarborough, York and Leeds because of queues at the hospital.
According to paramedics, there have been instances where as many of 25 of their fleet of 30 ambulances have been queued as they wait to transfer patients to the care of the hospital.
As a result, staff report emergency calls not being responded to on time and patients not receiving urgent care and even dying as a result. Although ambulances are being seconded from other parts of Yorkshire to reach patients in need, they then have to join the queues as Hull Royal Infirmary struggles to admit patients.
Ambulance workers insist the delays are not the fault of NHS staff or management, but because the system has been “starved” of the resources they say it needs to function properly.
A report published last week by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission found maternity services at the hospital to be “inadequate”, citing issues with staff recruitment and retention.
Ambulance staff are concerned the annual increase in demand for NHS services each winter has already begun, and that delays in discharging patients from their care to hospitals will only worsen as the weather gets colder.
The trade union Unite represents more than 100,000 workers in the healthcare sector. Their general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members serving in the Yorkshire Ambulance Service in Hull report that patients have already died because they can’t be reached in time. Queues of ambulances 20 deep and even 25 deep have occurred outside of Hull Royal Infirmary A&E.
“The blame for this lies entirely at the door of central government. Chronic low pay and unsustainable workloads due to years of attacks on services and wages are driving a recruitment and retention crisis and devastating the NHS. We need a change in government and real investment in our NHS and its staff.”
While hospitals across the country are seeing services stretched, Hull Royal Infirmary is believed to be particularly vulnerable to increased demand due to the city’s remote location in relation to other cities and the closure of smaller services in Hornsea, Withernsea, Bridlington and Goole.
Unite regional officer Chris Rawlinson said: “Our Yorkshire Ambulance Service members are clear the annual NHS winter crisis has come early to Hull Royal Infirmary and is set to get even worse as we head into December and January.
“All NHS staff and managers are doing their best, this is the fault of the government. Ministers have been very enthusiastic about imposing minimum service levels in the NHS during industrial action. But the fact is, they’re responsible for services being on the brink of collapse when things are supposed to be running normally.”
Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board was asked to comment on this story.