Ambulance service launches new scheme to tackle handover delays at A&E this winter

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust ambulance. Picture: CRAIG PUSEY

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust ambulance. Picture: CRAIG PUSEY - Credit: Archant

Relief teams will be sent to busy A&Es in the region this winter to take patients out of the hands of paramedics so they can get back on the road quicker.

Matt Broad, interim deputy director of strategy and transformation at EEAST. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Matt Broad, interim deputy director of strategy and transformation at EEAST. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has launched the new scheme this week and it aims to tackle handover delays, which have been a long-standing issue at hospitals in Suffolk and Essex.

Patient Safety Intervention Teams (PSIT) will be deployed where ambulance staff are being held-up with patients at emergency departments for longer than 45 minutes and 999 callers are waiting for a response in the community.

The ambulance service has taken this step in an attempt to keep on top of the surge in demand typically brought by the colder weather.

The scheme will run until March 2018.


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Matt Broad, interim deputy director of strategy and transformation at EEAST, said: “These teams are only deployed in very certain circumstances, however, have already proven their effectiveness.

“We deployed a team on Monday, meaning six crews could immediately hand over care of their patients, to restock and be back out on the road. It should mean crews can get back on the road to help patients quicker.”

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This week, five PSIT teams will be rolled out across the region.

PSIT staff will be clearly identifiable and will be dispatched to hospitals by a “tactical commander”.

EEAST publishes monthly figures on its website about how many hours it has lost by waiting longer than the recommended 15 minutes to transfer patients to the care of hospital staff at emergency departments in the East of England.

In September this year, the latest numbers available, the trust lost 239 hours at Ipswich Hospital, 579 hours at Colchester General Hospital, and 577 hours at West Suffolk Hospital.

Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, has previously written to “offending hospitals” asking them to improve the situation.

Reacting to the news of the PSIT scheme, Dr Coffey said: “I think it seems sensible to make sure that people are cared for appropriately in the hospital but to not necessarily go through the traditional process and enable experienced paramedics to get back on the road to help patients.”

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