Image caption, The delays have been partially blamed on ambulances “stuck” waiting for patients to be admitted to hospital

There has been a rise in long ambulance waiting times across the South West of England.

In August, nine patients who had planned admissions to hospital had to wait more than 24 hours for an ambulance or other hospital transport.

The delays have been blamed on a third of South Western Ambulances being tied up waiting at hospitals.

The service said it was “recruiting more people” after receiving “additional funding” from NHS England.

A year ago, no patients had to wait more than 24 hours for an ambulance.

There was also a rise in patients who had to wait 18 hours, with 56 in August, compared to two in 2019.

Shane Clark, from the trade union Unison, said that patients’ conditions can deteriorate during long waits.

“If someone is on the floor for a long period of time it can cause all sorts of problems,” he said.

Image caption, Shane Clark, from Unison, said the delays were leading to condition of some patients worsening

“If we respond to patients in a timely manner, some of them can be discharged at home.

“If they’re waiting longer they may require a trip to hospital so we end up in this circle where we are taking patients to hospital that might not necessarily need to go.”

Image caption, SWAST chief executive Will Warrender said the trust is recruiting extra staff to help resolve the problems

In response, the SWAST chief executive Will Warrender said it was “recruiting more people” after receiving “additional funding” from NHS England.

He added: “We are also working very hard to more accurately triage patients and that means that where we possibly can, we will try and avoid taking them into hospital and putting pressure on the emergency departments.”

In a statement, SWAST said it was sorry some patients are having to wait longer as a result of the NHS being under severe pressure.

The trust added that delays were reaching intolerable levels and it was working hard with the NHS to reduce them.

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