Ambulance crews were again queueing with patients in Northampton General Hospital corridors yesterday, for the fourth consecutive day.
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) crews are required to stay with their patients at the emergency department until their care can be safely handed over.
Although patients are always monitored by a trained NHS worker while waiting, sometimes they have to wait in corridors if there are no doctors or cubicles available.
An EMAS crew member said: “At lunchtime [on Wednesday] there were half a dozen ambulance crews, with patients on trolleys, holding in the corridor with more on the way.
“Earlier in the week the emergency department had patients who had been there for as long as 12 hours as there just wasn’t space on wards for them.”
It is understood that there were similar queues on Tuesday and Sunday, with Monday even busier.
A paramedic told the Chron yesterday: “I’ve spoken to crews today and the situation appears to becoming more and more frequent; crews are now expecting to be held rather than not, and in some cases are pre-empting patients and relatives prior to getting to the hospital that there is a possibility of a protracted wait.
“At least one family member refused for their elderly and ill parent to be taken to hospital because they didn’t want them left for hours on a trolley bed in a corridor waiting to be seen.”
Detailed figures for March or April last month are not yet available, however statistics showed that ambulance crew handovers lasting more than one hour rose from about 100 in January to about 150 in February.
That month, one in five patients arriving at NGH’s A&E department took longer than the target time of four hours to be admitted or discharged.
The hospital said it was taking on more emergency department staff and looking at plans to physically improve the layout of A&E, particularly the facilities for children and young people.