We regularly receive complaints that patients have had to wait an unacceptable length of time for an ambulance to arrive after calling 999. The NHS is under significant pressure and as a result it is unfortunately inevitable that some patients will have to wait longer than they would like for an ambulance. This factsheet sets out our approach to complaints about ambulance delays and the factors we will take into account when deciding whether to investigate a complaint, and if we do investigate it, the circumstances where a complaint may be upheld.
It is important to bear in mind that the causes of ambulance delays are not always fully within the control of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (“WAST”) which provides the ambulance service in Wales. Sometimes, there are no ambulances available for WAST to send to new calls because they are waiting outside hospitals as there is no capacity within the hospital to admit the patients who are currently in those ambulances. Where this situation applies, we will take it into account in reaching a decision.
While each case is determined on the individual facts, we are more likely to investigate and uphold your complaint in the following circumstances:
While each case is determined on the individual facts, we are unlikely to investigate and uphold your complaint in the following circumstances:
The resources allocated to WAST and the wider NHS are political matters for the government to decide. We are unable to recommend that more resources are allocated to WAST or the health boards.
We will need to judge whether the treatment/care provided was of an appropriate standard and bearing in mind the setting in which it was being provided. For example, care provided in a general hospital would not be judged against the standards that would apply in a specialist unit. More information can be found on the Clinical Standards page, under the ‘For Service Providers’ tab.
Under Putting Things Right (“PTR”), WAST must consider if the person making the complaint (or the person they represent) has suffered harm due to it failing in its duty of care. If WAST considers that this is the case, it may offer you redress. This might include remedial treatment or financial compensation. Please note that we cannot refer a complaint back to the PTR process once we have started an investigation. If you want your complaint to be considered under PTR, you must do this before asking us to investigate your complaint.
Llais can provide free help and support with making your complaint. You can contact them via their helpline on 02920 235 558.
Examples of cases that we have looked at can be found on our website, under the ‘Publications’ tab on the Our Findings page.