Drive to cut A&E wait for ambulances at Norwich hospital
06:30 08 July 2012
Archant Norfolk Photographic Â© 2009
New rapid assessments by consultants and reducing delays in discharging patients are two of the measures a Norwich hospital is taking in a bid to stop ambulances from backing up outside its A&E department.
There have been concerns for some time about the time it takes for ambulance crews to hand over their patients to staff in A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and how these delays impact on the ambulance service’s emergency response times in Norfolk.
Now the issue is to be revisited by the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
A report to be considered by the committee includes figures from the East of England Ambulance Service showing the hours lost due to ambulance turnaround delays at 18 hospitals across the east in the week ending June 17.
Just over 98 hours were lost that week through delayed handovers at the N&N and the report says even taking into account that the N&N receives more patients than any other hospital in the region, this figure is still high.
The number of hours lost at the James Paget University Hospital was just over 30 hours, while it was nearly 22 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and just over 25 at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.
The N&N says it is implementing a rapid assessment and treatment service, which will see the current practice of patients being initially assessed by a nurse changed so that a consultant will meet crews and their patients and will be able to make a swift decision on the diagnosis and treatment the patient needs.
The N&N also believes an improved out-of-hours service will help to relieve pressure on A&E.
In the report Debbie Oades, temporary A&E department manager, said: “It is not just the A&E department that impacts on the ambulance turnaround time.
“Professor Krishna Sethia, the medical director, is leading a change programme across the rest of the hospital so that patients that need to be admitted to a bed from A&E are able to do so within 30 minutes.
“These changes are significant and will take several months to come into effect.
“Some building alterations are necessary to change the way some wards operate and additional consultants are to be recruited. We aim to implement fully before the winter and all other factors being equal ambulance turnaround times will start to improve in August.”
The committee meeting will be held at 10am on Thursday at County Hall.