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Stroke patients wait nearly an hour for an ambulance

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Patients with suspected stroke faced ambulance waiting times of up to an hour in October, according to new figures from NHS England.

The average waiting time for stroke 999 calls was 53 minutes and 54 seconds – the worst since records began in 2007.

NHS England aims to reach stroke patients within 18 minutes and any delay in treatment can have serious consequences.

Charlotte Nicholls, Head of Policy at the Stroke Association, said:

“Paramedics should aim to respond to a suspected stroke in 18 minutes. Yet unprecedented system-wide pressures are now severely compromising ambulance response and hospital treatment times, despite the tireless efforts of health professionals.

“We are gravely worried about the impact this is having on people experiencing a stroke and we are now hearing from people who missed treatment, that would have reduced the disability they’re now left with.”

Ambulance trusts in England are under significant strain.

NHS England said that October was their busiest month ever, with staff answering a record 1,012,143 calls.

Meanwhile, major A&Es treated more than 1.4 million over the course of the month – the highest ever for October.

Deborah Ward, senior analyst at The King’s Fund health think tank, said: “Today’s stats reveal the worst performance since current records began for ambulance calls, A&Es and waits for planned hospital care.

“In a normal year any one of these would ring alarm bells; taken together before winter has even begun, they suggest a health and care system running hot for such a sustained period whilst still dealing with Covid-19, is now on its knees.”

Nicholls of the Stroke Association said it was ‘essential’ that complex pressures were addressed ‘immediately’, with more resources and funding to support faster dispatch of ambulances.

The spokesperson stressed that people should continue to dial 999 as soon as they spot the signs of a stroke.

 

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