PERFORMANCE: Two women died after they had to be treated in ambulances outside a hospital because its A&E unit was full.

The women, both believed to be in their 80s, had been taken to the Royal Oldham Hospital, in Greater Manchester, on Monday night.

One woman died the following day. The other woman died three days later.

It is understood that the women were in the ambulances for seven minutes and 20 minutes before being taken inside for treatment.

Dr Nick Gili, A&E consultant and clinical director of unscheduled care at The Royal Oldham Hospital, said: “The A&E department at The Royal Oldham Hospital was particularly busy on Monday night and we are sorry that there was a delay in transferring patients from waiting ambulances to inside the A&E department.

“However, our A&E team were put on stand-by by the ambulance service to receive these patients and their ambulances were met on arrival at our hospital by both medical and nursing staff.

“These clinicians were then able to commence appropriate treatment in the ambulance prior to transferring the patients in question to the department. We have been in touch with the patients’ families to discuss the care provided.”

Dr Gili said all patients were dealt with in order of their clinical priority, with the majority being seen, treated, transferred or discharged “within national standards”.

He added: “Patient safety is our top priority. We are working with North West Ambulance Service and NHS Oldham as a priority to look into how we can make sure that patients are admitted to A&E quickly on the small number of occasions when A&E departments experience very high levels of demand and if any improvements can be made to avoid delays and prevent this happening again”.

Last year the A&E departments at Pennine Acute Hospital Trust saw more than 300,000 patients across its hospitals.