Intended for healthcare professionals


Coroners warn ministers that delays in attending to patients are leading to deaths

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 31 January 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p243
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

Coroners are demanding action from health ministers after a spate of deaths occurring when patients in emergencies were delayed in getting into hospital. In three reports produced over one week in January coroners in different locations warned ministers that future deaths could happen unless they acted.

The reports came amid widespread delays in emergency service responses throughout England and Wales. Ambulances were backed up outside hospitals with seriously ill patients waiting to be handed over to accident and emergency teams, leaving them unable to respond quickly to new calls.12

Coroners are under a statutory duty to send a report on prevention of future deaths to anyone they believe to be in a position to take action, if the evidence from an inquest shows a continuing risk of death. The decision by three coroners to require action by health ministers indicates a systemic crisis that they believe will take government intervention to tackle.

On 18 January Jacqueline …

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