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.   

Over 2,000 of them were lost at the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH), which was the capital’s second-worst performing trust for ambulance hold-ups.  

In seven weeks, from November 14 to January 1, NHS England counted 2,094 hours at the trust as being “lost to ambulance handover delays”. 

That was the equivalent of 25 twelve-hour shifts per week.  


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. 

But LNWH – which runs Harrow’s Northwick Park and St Mark’s hospitals, as well as Ealing and Central Middlesex – ranked second out of 24 London NHS trusts, with 2,094 hours lost to delays. 

It was beaten only by Barking, Havering and Redbridge, where 2,527 hours were lost.  

Asked why it believed it was performing worse than other trusts, LNWH said: “Our hospitals regularly receive among the highest number of blue light ambulances of any in London. 

“Caring for so many extremely unwell patients affects our capacity to manage ambulance handovers as swiftly as we would like – particularly when we receive a number of blue light ambulances within a short space of time at points when our emergency departments are already seeing large numbers of people who need our care.” 

The trust was hit by delays despite taking numerous measures to try to avoid them, it said.  

It has deployed extra staff, created extra bed spaces and upped its use of discharge lounges to free up beds.  

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

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

“We have however prepared for winter like never before,” the 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.”