More than 18,500 hours were wasted across London in the lead-up to Christmas and New Year, as ambulances faced delays in handing patients over to hospitals.  

That figure was equivalent to almost 220 twelve-hour paramedic shifts per week.  

Among the worst-affected hospital trusts was Barts Health in east London, where 1,920 hours in seven weeks were described by the NHS as “lost to ambulance handover delays”. 


The figures, published by NHS England, covered the period from November 14 to January 1. 

The NHS in London has said delays are being experienced across the capital, fuelled in part by a large number of patients suffering from respiratory illnesses like flu and Covid. 

Barts – which runs Newham, Mile End, St Bartholomew, Whipps Cross and Royal London Hospitals – ranked fourth out of 24 London NHS trusts.  

It was beaten only by Barking, Havering and Redbridge (2,527 hours lost); London North West (2,094 hours); and King’s College Hospital Trust (2,054 hours). 

Asked why it believed it was performing so much worse than most other London trusts, Barts did not provide a specific answer.  

A spokesperson said: “Like the rest of the NHS, we are currently experiencing high demand across our services and our staff are working hard to ensure transfers into A&E happen as quickly as possible. 

“We are continually trying to improve and have taken steps to keep handover times to a minimum.” 

The trust has introduced an ambulance receiving centre at Whipps Cross and a new "cohort area" at Newham Hospital to try to speed up handovers.  

A London NHS spokesperson said hospitals were currently “experiencing record demand for urgent and emergency care”. 

Across London, 18,537 hours were lost to handover delays in seven weeks. 

“We have however prepared for winter like never before,” the London NHS spokesperson said, citing “more beds, extra 111 and 999 call handlers, expanding the use of 24/7 control centres across the capital... and additional respiratory hubs”. 

“But with flu hospitalisations and Covid cases remaining high, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” they added. 

The London Ambulance Service said: “From Thursday 12 January, NHS England have asked London hospitals to support the timely handover of patient care and the release of our crews within a maximum of 45 minutes where it is safe and appropriate to do so.

"It is important to note that hospitals assume clinical responsibility for the patient 15 minutes from the arrival of an ambulance.

"With support from the five Integrated Care Systems in the capital and all London hospital trusts, this ground-breaking policy is the first of its kind and will allow patients in an emergency to receive the care they need sooner.”