Royal College of Emergency Medicine Menu Menu

Excessive ambulance delays impacting patients and staff 

Thursday 28 March

Overcrowding in hospitals and a lack of social care options are adding to ambulance delays, says The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM.)

New data released today by NHS England covering 18 -24 March shows that a total of 276,342 hours have been lost due to ambulance delays of over 30 minutes, equivalent to more than 30 years.  

Total bed occupancy levels in hospitals across the country remains dangerously high at 94.2%, reaching 95.1% on 20 March. 

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) said:  “Overcrowding and patients who are technically ready to go home but haven’t got the right care provision in place, is really adding to the delay problems faced by ambulance staff and we need to ensure that staff in Emergency Departments are able to offer patients the care that they deserve. 

“Bed occupancy is still too high and seems to be increasing which is not a good sign that any improvement in that area is forthcoming.” 

The data also showed: 

  • This week, a total of 18,123 hours were lost to ambulance delays over 30 minutes, equivalent to more than two years.  
  • The number of patients who no longer met the criteria to reside that remained in hospital in week 19 was 91,915 (54%). 
  • A daily average of 18,440 patients occupied a bed for 21 or more days. 
  • The daily average number of beds occupied by flu patients was 998, an increase of 698 on week 19 last year. 

Graphs illustrating the data can be found here. 

RCEM continues to urge those in Government to support its manifesto to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare which sets out what is needed and why. 

Back to top Back to top