Patients forced to wait an hour and a half for 999 calls to be answered, new figures reveal
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Patients are being forced to wait up to an hour and a half for 999 calls to be answered, new figures have revealed. Meanwhile, those trying to get hold of the non-emergency 111 are waiting up to three hours before the phone is picked up.
According to The Independent report, figures for December obtained by Labour through a Freedom of Information request, also revealed it took an average of 90 minutes for ambulances to reach those with conditions such as heart attacks and strokes, despite the NHS recommending help within 18 minutes.
The findings come while the health-care system is under significant pressure, with ambulance drivers, nurses, and doctors staging a series of strikes over pay and work conditions since last year, which was made worse by the Covid pandemic.
The report also revealed more than 50,000 callers needing ambulances were placed on hold for five minutes or more. The figure may appear even lower because the NHS does not report the number of people who hang up before someone answers the phone.
Meanwhile, those who dialled 111 and had symptoms that necessitated a callback had to wait more than a day to hear from the service. One patient in the northwest of England had to wait more than 40 hours to speak with a certified doctor about their symptoms, while others had to wait as long as 30 hours.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the figures demonstrated “13 years of Conservative mismanagement” of the NHS. He said: “Patients can no longer be sure their 999 call will be answered or that an ambulance will arrive when they need one. People are just praying they don’t fall ill or suffer an accident.
“Labour will launch the biggest expansion of NHS staff training in history, paid for by abolishing non-doms, so that the NHS is there for us when we need it once again.”
The findings came a day after the party revealed that some patients in England had to wait more than two days for an ambulance. This month, it was also revealed that long waits in ambulance services in the UK are forcing the majority of Britons to make their own way to the hospital during a medical emergency.