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Investigation after patient dies in ambulance outside ‘extremely busy’ Addenbrooke’s Hospital A&E department

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A patient died in the back of an ambulance following a handover delay at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Addenbrooke's Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell (52704063)
Addenbrooke's Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell (52704063)

The patient arrived at the hospital on Sunday, October 24, just before 10pm with chest pain and was assessed by a registered nurse.

The patient remained in the ambulance where they were monitored by paramedics due to “significant pressures” on the accident and emergency department.

Just before 11pm the patient had a cardiac arrest.

The patient died despite attempts by ambulance and emergency department staff were unsuccessful to resuscitate them.

An investigation by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, who run Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie, is now under way.

A spokesperson for CUH said: “During an extremely busy night in our emergency department, a patient was brought to Addenbrooke’s by ambulance with chest pains.

“They were assessed by a registered nurse on arrival and remained in the ambulance, due to significant pressures on A&E, where they were monitored by paramedics.

“Our emergency department staff supported the paramedics when the patient’s condition deteriorated, but sadly they died following a cardiac arrest.

“An investigation has now been launched by CUH and our thoughts are with the family at this very difficult time.”

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “Sadly, a patient who had been transported by ambulance to Addenbrooke’s died before they could be transferred into the A&E department ​after their condition deteriorated.

“Our thoughts are with the family at this very difficult time, and the hospital has launched an investigation into the incident.

“In order to minimise any unnecessary pressures on A&E and our ambulance services, we urge the public to contact NHS 111 first if they feel unwell and are uncertain where best to seek treatment.”

NHS leaders have warned that ambulances in England “lost” 35,000 hours queuing outside busy emergency departments.

Services across England are operating under their highest ever operational level – indicating they are under “extreme pressure” – as patients are sometimes being forced to wait for treatment due to backlogs in emergency departments.

NHS leaders have ordered hospital bosses to “eliminate” ambulance delays and to stop using ambulance as extra emergency department “cubicles”.

Ambulances are supposed to be able to hand patients over to hospital staff within 15 minutes of arriving at the emergency department.

But the proportion waiting for more than an hour increased from 4,700 in April 2021 to over 35,000 in September 2021, according to the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives.

Read more:

Addenbrooke’s Hospital warns it faces huge demand

‘A&E was overflowing with children’: A mother’s experience taking her young daughter to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge

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