The impact of ambulance delays on patient health has been highlighted to a meeting of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).

Figures show three out of four ambulances have been waiting longer than the target 15 minutes to handover patients for hospital care across the region.

While one in seven have been waiting more than an hour, with the delays highlighted to a meeting of the EEAST board on Wednesday (January 12).

In a written report, chief executive Tom Abell said handover delays continued "to impact on the number of patients who had come to harm".

Meanwhile data reported to the board later in the meeting, suggested there had been 15 'serious incidents' in November where 'delayed attendances' led to patient harm.

Addressing the board, Mr Abell said: "We are obviously - alongside all other ambulance services - der really significant pressure from a number of different angles.

"So clearly we have seen a significant activity increase over the course of the autumn and significant demand from our communities.

"In the last month or two we have also seen the impact of the Omicron wave of Covid which has seen an increased level of absence within our workforce – people have been self isolating or catching Covid

"And secondly the knock-on impact has had in the wider health and care system – and so the impact on hospital handover delays."

Mr Abell said staff have shown "fantastic resilience" and that the trust is "working hard" to understand what it can do to support handover delays.

Board members were told steps taken by EEAST to improve resilience have already included the introduction of ‘cohorting teams’ to support hospitals, while it was reported more than 100 extra call handlers have been recruited.

Nevertheless, data reported to the trust board later in the meeting recorded 15 ‘serious incidents’ in November where ‘delayed attendances’ led to patient harm, with 21 ‘serious incidents’ investigated by the trust, that were recorded in November.

This includes a suicide where staff were kept away from the scene because of a "risk-marker" on the patient's address, a patient with low oxygen saturation who was not taken to hospital  – but later required admission to intensive care, and a further Covid patient who was not taken to hospital but later required ICU treatment.

It was also reported that a patient injured a leg while getting into the back of an ambulance – and a patient who was not taken to hospital, later died.

In a further incident, the delivery of a 'shock' during the resuscitation of a patient in cardiac arrest was delayed.