1.5m patients delayed in ambulances since 2016, Labour analysis finds

Almost 1.5 million NHS patients have been delayed over 30 minutes in the back of ambulances since 2016, new Labour research has revealed.

The analysis shows that 503,887 people were delayed more than half an hour in the back of ambulances last year – and 79,352 people were delayed more than 60 minutes.

These so-called ‘handover delays’ defy guidance, which states that patients should be handed over to hospital staff within 15 minutes of arriving at hospital.

Released ahead of Labour’s NHS rally in Leeds on Saturday, the party research also found that over the past three years 1,499,053 people were delayed more than half an hour – though the figure could be higher as there is missing data.

The data was obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request, which saw nine of out of ten ambulance trusts respond, with no details provided by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Commenting on the findings, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said: “This is damning evidence of the crisis our NHS has been pushed into after a decade of cuts. Many of these patients will be elderly in desperate need yet they have been left waiting and waiting.”

Referring to reductions in capacity under the Conservatives, the Shadow Health Secretary added: “It’s a disgrace and comes after cuts to 17,000 hospital beds under the Tories.

“You can’t trust Boris Johnson with our NHS but you can trust Labour to deliver the standards of care patients deserve with our £40bn cash rescue plan.”

Since 2010, 17,230 beds have been cut in the health service from a total of 144,455. The remaining 127,225 beds is the smallest number since records began in 1987-88.

It was recently found that NHS trusts in England spent over £92m on private ambulances and taxis to transport patients last year. The research showed that there was a 17% hike in the amount spent on transporting patients to hospitals by taxi between 2017 and 2018.

During the general election campaign, Ashworth has revealed Labour’s ‘rescue plan’ for the NHS. It pledges a £26bn boost to funding to provide quality care, recruit thousands of members of staff, rebuild facilities and offer modern equipment.

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