In a leaked email from the London Ambulance Service to hospital managers in London, as seen by ITV, it says: “From January 3rd we are asking that any patients waiting for 45 minutes for hand-over… are handed over immediately to ED (emergency department) staff allowing the ambulance clinicians to leave and respond to the next patient waiting in the community.
“If the patient is clinically stable the ambulance clinicians will ensure the patient is on a hospital trolley or wheelchair/chair and approach the nurse in charge of the emergency department to notify them that the patient is being left in the care of the hospital and hand over the patient.”
The email said that if the patient is not clinically stable, ambulance crews will stay with the patient until hand-over is achieved, but added that the clinical responsibility for the patient lies with the hospital.
The email said the current “operational challenges” in the NHS are “very significant” and “this is a difficult time for everyone”.
‘This isn’t safe. This isn’t a solution’
Rachel Clarke, an NHS palliative care doctor, said on Twitter that the plan was unsafe.
“This isn’t safe. This isn’t a solution. There aren’t the ED beds, the ED doctors, the ED nurses, the ED spaces. Or is the proposal here merely to pile up more patients in ED corridors?,” she wrote.
Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman, said: “This move shows the shocking reality of the NHS crisis and is yet further proof that a major incident must now be declared across London.
“The Health Secretary must act now to save the capital’s hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“Corridors and waiting rooms are already full with patients coping with severe pain. The Government cannot wait any longer to act.”