Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 17°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk/Essex: MP says improvements to ambulance handovers must be maintained

08:00 01 February 2014

This winter saw a fall in the number of ambulance handover delays lasting longer than one hour in hospitals across the East of England

This winter saw a fall in the number of ambulance handover delays lasting longer than one hour in hospitals across the East of England

Archant

A health minister has warned that failure to maintain improvements to ambulance handover times in Suffolk would be “unacceptable”.

shares

Dr Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich said he was “cautiously optimistic” about figures indicating a fall in the number of handovers from ambulance to hospitals which took longer than an hour.

He praised staff and tougher leadership for the improvement, and said seasonal fluctuations should be taken into account, but added that if the number of hour long handovers increased “significantly” again it would be “unacceptable”.

Last winter 208 handovers from the East of England Ambulance Service to Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust took longer than an hour, while the same figure for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was 98.

This winter the figures were down to 45 and zero respectively. However this year’s figures don’t include the month of February.

At James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust there was a decrease in hour long handovers from 109 last winter to just one this winter.

At Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust there was a decrease from 1,409 to just nine.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) said the introduction of Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officers had seen delays “reduced significantly”.

Yesterday Dr Poulter said it was “not good” to have ambulances stuck in A&E “when they should be out on the road picking people up”.

“Last year was a particularly cold winter and this year is a mild winter and this does have a role in how the ambulance service operates,” he said.

However he also said changes made within the health service had contributed.

“Two or three things that have happened particularly in Ipswich Hospital Trust have made a difference,” he said.

“Firstly we have a new Chief Executive who has made great strides to take the hospital forward really positively and got to grips with the issues there. A lot of credit has to go to him for taking on board valid criticism in the past and taking things forward.”

Government funding to relieve winter pressures had also allowed the hospital to employ more staff in A&E.

“Finally, the commissioners of the ambulance services are getting tough and are saying we will fine hospitals if you keep our ambulances stuck there and we’ll impose those fines and that forced hospitals to take these things much more seriously.”

Dr Poulter added: “I’m cautiously optimistic about this and this appears to be good news but it’s important that these improvements continue.

“I think it is down to very hard work by the staff on the ground and good leadership as well.

“We have had a mild winter and there will be some seasonal variation but I think if the figures were to rise significantly again that would be unacceptable, but we have to accept that life can be unpredictable even with the best planning in the world.”

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said a range of initiatives had been introduced to improve handover times, including having a team on hand specifically to take over from ambulance crews as soon as a patient arrives at hospital.

The EEAST said: “All kinds of factors affect how long our crews are at hospital such as pressures on the hospital. The figures in question are not complete but show that we’ve got delays down.

“Hospital ambulance liaison officers (HALOs) are now in hospitals to help avoid or deal with delays. They work with ambulance crews and hospital staff to reduce the time an ambulance is at A&E and so freed up more quickly and available for their next patient.

“The HALOs also help to improve the relationships with hospitals to keep things running smoothly during busy periods. Since HALOs have been introduced, delays across the region have reduced significantly.

“We will continue to work closely with the hospital trusts in order to keep this momentum up as any handover delay is not good for patients or other people in the community who need an ambulance.”

One place which did not see such a dramatic reduction in hour-long delays was Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, where they fall from 162 to 131 this winter.

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We enjoy a positive and constructive working relationship with the East Anglian Ambulance Service, which benefits patients being brought to the Emergency Department at Colchester General Hospital.

“For example, ambulance liaison officers are located there 16 hours a day, seven days a week, and help with the transfer of patients between the two organisations.

“However, inevitably, there are sometimes bottlenecks as a result of several emergency ambulances arriving at the hospital at the same time.

“In these circumstances, the handover of patients is not always as quick as we would both like but what is essential is that patients are always in the care of either skilled paramedics or specialist nurses and doctors.

“There have been some days this winter when the number of emergency ambulances coming here has been as high as the number going to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, which is much bigger.

“It is not unusual for more than 250 patients to come to the Emergency Department in a day but the latest figures show that, on average, less than two patients a day spend more than an hour in an ambulance here. However, we are determined to reduce this figure by working closely with our ambulance service colleagues.”

shares

1 comment

  • i wonder how many people sitting in the A & E dept,are from abroad or who have not registered with a doctor change this and times will fall

    Report this comment

    pandy

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

An artist's impression of the new heritage centre.

A proposal to develop a new £17m heritage centre to hold most of Suffolk’s Records at Ipswich’s UCS campus is expected to be endorsed by the county’s cabinet next week.

A double lightining strike has hit and destroyed a house. Darren Hobson surveys the damage. Picture: Stephen Huntley.

A hero father-of-six who led his family to safety following a lightning strike to his home has praised his neighbours’ support.

Stuart Cullen, from the Lowestoft area, who died in the terrorist attack in Tunisia.

The family of a man who died in the Tunisian massacre have paid tribute to their “third musketeer”.

Joy Poppy, aged 82, who died following a collision in Woodbridge on July 1

Mrs Poppy died after a collision in New Street, Woodbridge, on Wednesday.

Libby Brown headteacher at Kyson Primary, Woodbridge.

A board of school governors has launched a fierce attack on Suffolk County Council after their headteacher had to stop work for seven weeks.

BBC Radio Suffolk's Mark Murphy with one of the Scamnesty bids

A Suffolk Trading Standards Scamnesty campaign is using special bins across the county in a bid to snare unscrupulous conmen.

Police in Ipswich are investigating a number of incidents where eggs were thrown at people and buildings in the town.

The Coffee House team

Every month Gina Long marvels at the sterling charity work undertaken in our glorious county.

Jean's aunts Lily and Ethel. 'Lily was blunt-spoken, much like her mother (Retta), whereas Ethel was a real little madam'

Jean Keevil loved her childhood in Bath Street, though is sad the area has changed

Cedar House, Pytches Road, Melton - set to have ten new homes in its grounds.

Developers who have bought a prime site on the edge of Woodbridge from the district council expect to submit proposals to create new homes next month.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages