Suffolk: MP hits out over number of hours wasted by ambulance crews as they are forced to wait around hospitals

A SUFFOLK MP is leading a charge to reduce the “unacceptable” number of wasted hours ambulance crews spend hanging around at hospitals, waiting to transfer patients.

Dr Dan Poulter, who represents Central Suffolk, has called for immediate changes to be made to improve patient handover times at the region’s hospitals. Dr Poulter has obtained figures showing that the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has lost on average 1,845 hours - equivalent to 154 12-hour double staffed ambulance shifts – each month over the past year due to ambulances being delayed at hospitals.

Following a meeting with Hayden Newton, chief executive of EEAST, Dr Poulter and his North Norfolk colleague Norman Lamb have written to hospitals across the two counties to find out what steps are being taken to reduce the amount of time that ambulances spend queuing outside hospitals.

Dr Poulter said: “It is unacceptable that many patients in Suffolk are being forced to wait outside our hospitals for important medical care and treatment after arriving by ambulance. These delays are potentially putting people’s lives at risk.”

He said it was “vital” that immediate steps were taken to promote more joined-up working between hospitals and EEAST.

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An EEAST spokeswoman said: “Obviously any delays at hospital resulting in handover delays mean time off the road for our crews, but much hard work is going on with hospitals, the Strategic Health Authority and our commissioners to proactively tackle handover delays.

“A well-attended summit worked to reinforce best practice and consider possible solutions but these are still in the very early days of discussion.”

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A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said: “We are working very closely with colleagues at the ambulance service to make sure we do everything we can possibly do to get the ambulances back on the road as quickly as possible.

“We have been working together for some time to address this really important issue.”

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