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The Real HealthCare Lottery

The following blog was published on 12th March 2019.

We recently had an unfortunate situation of a colleague requiring an ambulance due to a life-threatening episode. When the ambulance arrived (75 minutes later from a hospital 10 minutes away) the paramedics did a great job looking after the patient. Expecting them to roar away, lights flashing and siren wailing, we were surprised when they sat there doing paperwork. When asked why they were not taking the patient off to hospital, the response was, “Better to sit here than queue up at A&E!”

This prompted us to take a look at NHS England's data for A&E delays for ambulances. Comparing NHS Trusts in Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Salford from December 2018 through to the end of February 2019, the variability of provision is dramatic.

And it is worth remembering that these numbers may be positively skewed by the fact that in the case above, paramedics deliberately delayed their arrival at A&E so as not to have to queue. Average response times from NHS England for life-threatening cases across the various regions in January were as follows:

Why should this difference exist in our NHS today and how can patient flow be better supported? What is it about these cities that is making the difference?

Analytics enables us to highlight the difference, allowing the NHS to address the problems. Let us know what you think.


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