Ambulance hand over times at A&E rise again in winter
Getting ambulances back on the road is a priority for hospitals in the region, bosses said, as the number of ambulance hours wasted by waiting to hand over rose again this winter.
Handing over a patient from an ambulance to A&E is expected to take no more than 15 minutes. Ambulance crews then complete any outstanding paperwork and make sure their vehicles are clean, restocked and meet infection prevention standards.
However, in January 2019 the equivalent of 295 ‘ambulance hours’ were wasted waiting to hand over at Ipswich Hospital, 203 at Colchester and 318 at West Suffolk, up from 228, 189 and 213 the previous month. This is down year-on-year from January 2018.
Gary Morgan, deputy director of service delivery at the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “There have been some challenging days this winter and we would like to thank our staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the winter period.
“We have seen an increase in the number of more seriously unwell patients this month. Our winter plans to manage demand include a handover escalation process, where we work closely with hospitals. It is important to note that we have seen an improvement in handover delays at Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals in January 2019 compared to same month in 2018.
“As part of our collaborative working across the region, hospital ambulance liaison officers (HALOs) work in A&E departments to help manage the flow of ambulance patients arriving. Our HALOs assist A&E teams and our ambulance crews to handover the sickest patients as a priority.”
Ipswich and Colchester hospital spokeswoman Jan Ingle said there is a renewed focus on managing demand this winter.
“Getting emergency ambulances back on the road as quickly as possible is also a big priority for us, and we have put in place several changes at both emergency departments to try and make this happen,” she said. “These changes include much closer working with the ambulance service and a stronger focus on managing demand.”
West Suffolk Hospital’s Alex Baldwin said emergency department nurses and doctors worked closely with ambulance crews to ensure patients aren’t waiting longer than necessary, and to start delivering hospital care whilst they are waiting.