Date for predicted collapse of West Midlands Ambulance Service to arrive

West Midlands Ambulance Service will not collapse or face its "Titanic moment" this week despite stark warnings earlier this year, it has been confirmed.

Director of nursing Mark Docherty predicted the service would likely fail around August 17 due to ambulance handover delays affecting response times.

It was described as a "catastrophic situation" with deaths happening "which should not be happening" as a result of patients not being transferred quick enough.

But now it has been confirmed the service will continue despite the pressing challenges with work under way to look at new solutions to tackle the issue.

A spokesperson for the West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "The ambulance service relies on each part of the health and social care system working together so that our ambulances can get to patients in the community quickly.

"Sadly, the pressures we are seeing in health and social care lead to long hospital handover delays with our crews left caring for patients that need admitting to hospital rather than responding to the next call. The result is that our crews are delayed reaching patients.

"We are working incredibly hard with all of our NHS and social care partners to prevent these delays, looking at new ways to safely hand over patients quickly so that our crews can respond more rapidly and save more lives.

“Whilst the service is under very considerable pressure the staff in our control rooms and our operational ambulances are working flat out to reach patients as quickly as possible. The service will continue despite these challenges."

Mr Docherty said at a board meeting in May patients suffering from heart attacks, strokes and blood clots were "dying every day" due to ambulances being stuck outside hospitals for several hours.

Meanwhile Helen Morgan, Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire, said: "The service might not have collapsed but the crisis has got much worse just as Mark predicted. Suspected heart attack and stroke patients waited an average of 59 minutes and 55 seconds for a West Midlands ambulance in July – the longest wait for Category Two calls in the service’s history. This is double the wait it was last July and more than four times the wait in 2019.

"The fact that the service has not entirely collapsed is thanks to the remarkable efforts of our frontline medics who are working extremely hard while the Government does nothing.

"People are still dying waiting for ambulances to arrive. Meanwhile the Government is on holiday and the Conservative leadership candidates are prioritising culture wars over saving lives.

"The health system remains on the verge of collapse, we have yet another critical incident in Shropshire and this is summertime. When the annual winter pressure arrives many more people are likely to die due to this Conservative Government’s neglect."

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