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Ambulances queue outside A&Es as 999 calls pile up

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 22 October 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2590
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Ambulance services in England are struggling to cope with huge numbers of calls, as crowded hospitals are unable to take patients and queues of ambulances waiting outside emergency departments have become an everyday occurrence.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives has said that every ambulance service in England is now at the highest level of alert, and paramedics have warned that services are regularly holding up to 300 calls at a time when no ambulances are available.

In September, 2.1 million people attended emergency departments—the highest figure ever recorded for that month—and calls to ambulance services for category one incidents (life threatening injuries and illnesses, such as cardiac arrest) increased by 36.5% compared with September 2019.1

Under this pressure, ambulance services missed the average …

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