‘Total chaos’ at major hospital’s A&E unit on Boxing Day as up to FIFTEEN ambulances full of patients are forced to queue outside

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A major hospital’s A&E department was in ‘total chaos’ on Boxing Day with ‘up to 15 ambulances’ queuing up outside for ill patients to be admitted, according to a paramedic.

The paramedic, who asked not to be named, said he hadn’t seen anything like the scene at Royal Bolton Hospital since the height of Covid.

One mother who took her son to the emergency department at the Greater Manchester hospital said she was advised to ring for a taxi rather than for an ambulance after they called the 111 service.

A major hospital’s A&E department was in ‘total chaos’ on Boxing Day with ‘up to 15 ambulances’ queuing up outside for ill patients to be admitted, according to a paramedic. The paramedic, who asked not to be named, said he hadn’t seen anything like the scene at Royal Bolton Hospital since the height of Covid

The worrying scenes come after Health Secretary Victoria Atkins called in bosses of hospitals with the longest delays for transferring patients from ambulances to A&E and told them to ‘buck up their ideas’.

It also follows a three-day walkout by junior doctors before Christmas which it was feared would leave hospitals struggling to discharged patients ahead of the festive period – with a record six further days of strike action planned for the new year.

The paramedic told how he arrived at lunchtime yesterday with a patient – and described the situation as ‘total chaos’.

‘It has not been like this for years, since Covid,’ he said.

‘It was absolutely total chaos and I don’t use the term lightly. The staff at A&E are doing everything that they can, but it is bad. There are ambulances everywhere.

‘We arrived at the hospital with a patient and had to wait nearly three-and-a-half hours.

‘There is no room for ambulance patients.

The worrying scenes at Royal Bolton Hospital come after Health Secretary Victoria Atkins called in bosses of hospitals with the longest delays for transferring patients from ambulances to A&E and told them to 'buck up their ideas'

The worrying scenes at Royal Bolton Hospital come after Health Secretary Victoria Atkins called in bosses of hospitals with the longest delays for transferring patients from ambulances to A&E and told them to ‘buck up their ideas’

‘We were all just sat there and that means we cannot go to other jobs.’

At 3pm on Boxing Day, 12 ambulances were parked up outside A&E.

Inside the waiting area was busy with around two thirds of the seats taken.

One woman who had brought her son said: ‘We called 111 and they got us a taxi rather than an ambulance and told us to come straight here.

‘My heart sank a bit when I saw how busy it was, but within about 15 minutes he’d been seen and in another 15 minutes he was in a cubicle, so he got through pretty fast.’

The paramedic said the situation appeared to be particularly bad at Royal Bolton Hospital, exacerbated by GP surgeries being closed.

‘We went to Salford earlier and that was quiet. It just seems to be the Royal Bolton.’

Hospitals will operate at full capacity for just four weekdays until January 10. Only December 27, 28, 29 and January 2 are unaffected by the impending chaos of the holidays and strikes until January 10

Hospitals will operate at full capacity for just four weekdays until January 10. Only December 27, 28, 29 and January 2 are unaffected by the impending chaos of the holidays and strikes until January 10

On its website, hospital bosses said A&E was ‘very busy’ with waiting times of up to four hours, but stressed that ‘the most seriously ill and injured patients will always be seen immediately’.

The hospital and North West Ambulance Service were approached for comment.

Across England, 15 hospitals are responsible for almost half of all ambulance delays, and one in eight patients nationally now have to wait more than an hour outside A&E, according to analysis by The Times.

In 13 hospitals, the average wait for patients to be moved from ambulance to A&E is now more than an hour this winter, with patients in Plymouth waiting four hours.

Trusts with the longest waits were earlier this month accused of ‘failing their communities’ by Ms Atkins, who told LBC the longest delays were ‘simply unacceptable’.

It comes after ambulance bosses were last week urged the NHS to treat patients in corridors.

Emergency vehicles have been forced to queue for up to 10 hours outside hospitals already this winter.

NHS England figures show nearly 29,000 hours were lost to delays in handing over patients who arrived at A&E in an ambulance in the week ending December 17.

One in three patients were forced to wait more than 30 minutes, while one in seven had to wait more than an hour. The target time is 15 minutes. 

Daren Mochrie, chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), said that, while it was ‘never ideal’, it would be better to admit patients into corridors than leave them in the back of ambulances.

NHS bosses blamed a lack of space in hospitals, which was fuelled by striking junior doctors reducing capacity to discharge patients and free up beds. 

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