Wales had the longest waiting times and caused the highest level of 'any harm' of all ambulance services in England, Scotland and Wales, a report has found.

The report, compiled by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) focused on a structured clinical review, undertaken to assess the potential harm that patients experience as a result of extended delays in their handover from an ambulance crew to hospital staff.

All ambulance services in the three countries participated in the review, which took place on January 4 2021 and results were discussed during a Welsh Ambulance Service Trust board meeting this week.

The AACE report found that in England, Scotland and Wales, over 8 out of 10 patients whose handover was delayed beyond 60 minutes were assessed as likely to have experienced some level of harm, with just under 1 in 10 being classified as potentially experiencing severe harm.

In Wales, the harm identified was higher than the overall combined findings above, with 9 in 10 people assessed as experiencing harm with a quarter of these being either moderate or severe.

With waiting times in Wales, especially North Wales very high, it was no surprise to see that Wales had the longer waiting times out of the three countries, both at handover and in the emergency departments.

Out of the 50 delays recorded on the day, 22 waited one to two hours, six waited two to three hours, seven waited three to four hours and 15 waited over four hours. The longest delay on the day was over eight hours, a wait time which is currently being exceeded in Wales.

72% of patients recorded in Wales were over 65, compared to 62% in England and 41% in Scotland, which coincided with the most frequent type of harm caused by delays were to patients with long term conditions and frailty.

Dr Brendan Lloyd said: "The audit undertaken by AACE is a retrospective audit, it was undertaken on January 4 because that was when the system in England came under the most pressure. It is worth noting that we were under the greatest pressure probably one to two weeks before that, so our figures would have been even worse prior to the 4th January.

"The plan is to repeat the audit on the 4th January next year so that we can see whether there have been improvements and what recommendations have been taken on board."