Hospitals in the West Midlands have bed shortages so severe that ambulances often cannot unload patients and have to keep them waiting in their vehicles or in corridors. This is according to Steve Wheaton, assistant chief officer of West Midlands Ambulance Service. He told the BBC that ambulances often have to wait for more than an hour before they can hand patients over to staff in accident and emergency (A&E). He revealed there was one recent case in Dudley where paramedics had to wait with a patient in their ambulance for six hours until a bed became available. "Patient safety is our number one priority and we do our best to make sure that we look after patients, but it is becoming increasingly hard to maintain a 999 service and a service to patients in a corridor," Mr Wheaton said. The knock-on effect of this is that ambulance crews are unable to get out to other 999 calls and Mr Wheaton admits that in some cases people have been made to wait more than an hour because no vehicles were available.
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