Four in 10 seriously ill patients are being left waiting for too long because paramedics are tied up elsewhere.
Government targets dictate ambulances should reach ‘red’ calls – in cases of cardiac arrest or where breathing has stopped – within eight minutes 75 per cent of the time.
But figures released by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), which was last week told to improve by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), show it only managed to beat the clock 63 per cent of the time in November.
That figure has rocketed by almost 10 per cent since 2012 and has been branded ‘disgraceful’ by union GMB, while NWAS blamed the rise on a hike in demand and lengthy handover times at A&E.
“These disgraceful figures clearly show Tory tactics of under-funding and privatising the NHS are putting lives in danger,” Paul McCarthy, the union’s regional director said.
“GMB members put their heart and soul into the life-saving work they do for our health service. But the Conservatives are cutting their feet out from under them – and the result is dying patients are left with a desperately long wait for emergency care.”
A spokesman for NWAS said: “The trust has experienced significant delivery challenges in dealing with the general 999 demand over the December, festive and January period.
“The challenge has been two fold: Firstly, the increase in 999 calls; and secondly, the major ambulance delays experienced while handing over patients at the hospitals across the region.
“This delay adversely affects the trust’s ability to provide a timely response to patients waiting in the community.
“We would like to assure the public that we are doing all we can with our NHS colleagues to overcome these challenges.”