PARAMEDICS claim a lack of beds at the Royal Gwent Hospital for patients arriving by ambulance means there is no option but to keep them onboard the vehicles, often for many hours.

They say it happens daily, and patients with a range of conditions - including sepsis - can remain in ambulances for up to 12 hours.

The ambulance service and Gwent's health board acknowledge that when emergency departments are busy - as they have been in recent weeks - there can be problems, but say they are working together to find a solution.

One paramedic said: “On average, they are waiting for seven hours for a hospital bed. In some cases, patients can be waiting for 12 hours. Some have had strokes, broken hips or are suffering from sepsis.

“There can be as many as 10 ambulances waiting outside the Royal Gwent because of the lack of beds.

“When there are beds I can do eight or nine jobs a day. When there are no beds I'm doing, on average, two a day.

“This is not the fault of the Welsh Ambulance. We are doing everything we can."

Another paramedic added: "Blame us if we get something wrong, but don't do that if it is not our fault.

"If an ambulance is stuck outside with someone in the back that is not the fault of those staff. We do not manage the number of beds.

”This is a crisis.”


Both paramedics, who do not want to be named, claim funding cuts are largely to blame, with a lack of GPs, and people going to A&E when they do not need to, also contributing.

"If these things are fixed then the bed shortages will start to become less worse," said one.

“If nothing happens, the crisis that has engulfed the hospital - and it is happening in many others too - will only get worse."

A Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust spokesman said that in during one 24-hour spell this week, more than 550 patients attended A&E at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals, and there have been delays in handing over patients at the Royal Gwent.

"Handover delays are always unfortunate and represent poor experience for our patients and staff, as well as compounding the risks to patients in the community who may need our care.

“We know how difficult and upsetting this is both for patients waiting longer for an ambulance as a result, and our staff when they’re unable to handover patients into the care of hospital colleagues.

“We are working closely with our health boards colleagues to find alternatives to taking patients to the busy A&E departments, recognising that there will always be patients who need prompt access to the care provided by emergency units.

“We would like to ask the public to think carefully about how they use both the ambulance service and emergency departments. The 999 number is for genuine emergencies only, while minor injuries units can help with many more straightforward health issues."

An Aneurin Bevan University Health Board spokesman said the Royal Gwent Hospital has been "extremely busy" a recent weeks due to "an unusually high intake of very poorly people with serious health conditions".

"The space inside the hospital’s Emergency Department is limited and this will be the case until our new facilities at the Grange University Hospital open in 2021," he said.

“Nevertheless our staff are doing an outstanding job in making sure our patients receive the best possible care.

“In such testing circumstances, patients brought to our hospitals may be assessed by a doctor or nurse on the ambulance as it arrives. If the patient requires urgent life-saving treatment then they will be brought straight into our resuscitation department. If their condition is not life threatening then they may remain in the ambulance until space in the hospital becomes available.

“This is not the best situation for our patients and we continue to work with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust to try to improve the speed with which we transfer patients from ambulances to the hospital and we would like to apologise to anyone who has been inconvenienced or upset due to any delays caused by the current circumstances.”