CLAIMS that a patient was forced to wait eight hours and 11 minutes in an ambulance outside a West Midlands A&E have been refuted.

This week the Labour Party released statistics from Freedom of Information requests to every ambulance service in the country showing 279,207 ambulances waited outside hospitals for more than 30 minutes last year, with 30,601 waiting longer than an hour.

Although the party claimed one patient in the West Midlands was forced to wait for eight hours and 11 minutes, this has been denied by the organisation running the region’s ambulance service.

A spokesman from West Midlands Ambulance Service said on the day in question an ambulance crew had been tasked with ‘cohorting’ – looking after patients from other ambulances so they were able to leave the hospital and respond to other calls – and the eight hours figure referred to the amount of time this was carried out.

“Clearly it is unfortunate that a crew were required to do so as any delay in handover, however short, means that the ambulance is not available to respond to the next case,” he said.

“Hospitals in the West Midlands have worked extremely hard to reduce delays over the last 18 months and in the main have been very successful in doing so.

“On average, delays are now only around an eighth of the levels experienced 18 months ago, which is to be welcomed.

“The trust continues to work closely with each acute hospital in the West Midlands to keep delays to a minimum.”

Stewart Messer, chief operating officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital along with Kidderminster Hospital and Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital – said it was the policy of both the hospital and ambulance trusts that patients are brought inside as soon as they arrive.

“On a daily basis our emergency staff and West Midlands Ambulance Service work together to ensure patient safety and quality of services,” he said.

“As soon as ambulances arrive at our A&E departments, patients are taken inside and treated by ambulance staff until being handed over to our specialist A&E staff.

“No patients are left waiting for treatment outside the departments."

Mr Messer added 91.64 per cent of patients who arrived at A&E in Worcester or Redditch in June were handed over within 30 minutes and 50.05 per cent within 15 minutes.

“We continue to work with the ambulance service to ensure we hit our national targets,” he said.

An NHS England spokesman said the amount of delays in handing over patients from ambulances to hospital staff last winter was 30 per cent lower than the previous year.