A row has broken out over reports that hospitals in the West Midlands have routinely closed A&E departments to ambulances.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act show the chairman of the West Midlands ambulance service warned patients were being put at risk by the practice.
The newspaper reported there were 7,600 delays in October 2008, when the letters were sent by Sir Graham Meldrum, of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
Hospitals in the West Midlands closed their doors to all ambulances on 472 occasions over a six-month period, the report added.
Mike Penning, shadow health minister said: ‘Labour’s tick-box target culture is forcing staff to prioritise hitting the 4 hour A&E target ahead of getting patients the treatment that they need.
‘That means that many hospitals are being forced to close their doors to patients, often leaving them waiting outside, so that they don’t count as being ‘admitted’ and therefore they do not miss the targets set by bureaucrats in London.’