Concerns have been raised about a Doncaster hospital’s ability to cope with emergencies, after it was revealed that dozens of patients have been forced to wait in ambulances outside accident and emergency this week while they waited to be admitted.
At least 23 patients, along with paramedics working on the ambulances, were made to wait outside Doncaster Royal Infirmary on the evenings of February 1 and 2 due to its accident and emergency department being too busy to admit anyone else.
A source close to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, who wishes to remain anonymous, has claimed that some people were kept waiting outside DRI for up to two hours as staff attempted to deal with the backlog - with paramedics unable to move on to help anyone else requiring emergency medical assistance until those patients waiting on ambulances had been admitted.
They say that paramedics feel the situation is ‘dangerous,’ and fear it could lead to a patient death if the pressure placed on the oversubscribed service continues.
“This is the second or third time this year this has happened, and I think it’s disgusting,” they told the Free Press, adding: “Paramedics get into the job because they want to help people but their hands are being tied with this situation. Paramedics are the ones who get blamed, but it’s the hospital being too busy that’s the real cause.
“When the ambulance staff were waiting on Monday, members of the public were shouting at them because they thought they were waiting around - but really it was because they were told they would have to wait until their patients could be admitted.
“They’re all worried about the patients, they don’t want to see people being kept to wait for medical attention in the cold.”
A spokesman for DRI says that emergency cases were being admitted on the evenings of February 1 and 2, but confirmed that other patients had been left to wait outside with paramedics while staff attempted to deal with the ‘unprecedented ‘ number of admissions.
David Purdue, Chief Operating Officer at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals cited the ‘extreme’ pressures being placed on the hospital that led to patients being forced to wait on ambulances for treatment.
He said: “Like many other hospitals across the whole of South Yorkshire we are experiencing unprecedented pressure on our Emergency Departments.
“We work very closely with Yorkshire Ambulance Service and have a robust system in place for patient handover to ensure patient safety.
“Unfortunately the pressures were extreme on the evening of 1 and 2 February and some patients had to wait on ambulances at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
“We apologise to those patients who were kept waiting while we coped with the demand.
“We urge everyone to please choose wisely and keep the emergency department for critical and life threatening conditions only.”
Around 100 ambulances visit DRI every day.