PATIENTS taken to hospital by ambulance in North Wales are waiting longer than recommended to be handed over to hospital staff.
In the 12-week period from August 3 to October 25, the average handover period for patients each week was longer than the maximum recommended time of 15 minutes.
And data for ambulance services obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act showed the longest handover time at hospitals run by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board over the same period was almost five hours.
Patients cannot formally be handed over to a hospital until staff are available to take charge of them.
The longest recorded delay in Wales was from the Cardiff and Vale health board, where one patient waited almost six hours to be handed over.
Mike Collins, director of service delivery at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Handover delays are of great concern to us, not least because of the impact on our ability to respond to other 999 calls.
“It also of great concern because of the experience of patients who wait to be admitted whilst these delays occur.
“In general, the vast majority of patients are handed over within 30 minutes.
“We are working closely with our health board colleagues to ensure lengthy individual delays are escalated to senior managers at all affected hospitals, and that plans are in place to ensure delays are minimised.
“Ambulance crews continue to provide clinical care for patients as they wait to be admitted into hospital and we liaise with hospital staff to prioritise those patients with greatest clinical need.”
Mr Collins added: “As the emergency healthcare system across Wales continues to face significant pressure, we invite the public to support NHS Wales’ Choose Well campaign to ensure busy emergency services are available for those who need them most urgently.”
At the end of November, health minister Mark Drakeford announced that the Welsh NHS Trust had achieved a 65 per cent eight-minute target response time during October.
There had been fewer patients waiting more than an hour for handover from ambulance crews to A&E staffs over the past six months and there had been fewer lost ambulance hours accrued at A&E departments in the period June-October.
l For advice and treatment of most illnesses, visit your GP, or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for confidential health advice and information.
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