A PARAMEDIC claims he regularly has to wait with patients in the corridor outside York Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department when he should be responding to emergencies.

The ambulanceman said that four years ago, it would have been unheard of for him and his colleagues to wait in the corridor but it was now “the norm” to wait from 40 minutes to two hours.

He claimed that on one occasion, there were 14 patients waiting with paramedics in the corridor or in ambulances outside, although he stressed that no critically injured or ill patients were left waiting.

He also said he believed plans to close Ward 24, a 30-bed acute elderly ward, would worsen the delays.

“It is nothing short of a disaster, meaning that Casualty will be unable to move their patients to other wards, meaning we spend even more time in the corridor waiting,” he claimed.

The paramedic, who did not wish to be named, spoke out after The Press revealed on Monday that Ward 24 was closing as part of a drive to treat more elderly patients in their own homes and cut the length of hospital stays.

Mandy McGale, director of operations at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said she “did not recognise” the paramedic’s claims.

She said there were inevitably peaks and troughs in demand and the hospital had worked closely with Yorkshire Ambulance Service to improve turnaround times.

“However, further improvements can be made and work is still being done to enable this to happen,” she said.

She said investment in a dedicated team of staff who could provide rehabilitation for patients in their own homes meant they did not need to stay in hospital, freeing up beds for the most acutely ill patients.

Vince Larvin, of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said during periods of high demand, hospitals might experience busy periods which, understandably, could result in delays.

“On these occasions, patients are cared for by ambulance staff who work alongside hospital staff to ensure they are admitted as quickly and as safely as possible,” he said.

“We monitor ambulance turnaround times and work very closely with our healthcare partners to minimise any delays.”