Ambulance watch: More ambulance delays at N&N as emergency department fails to cope with “record number” of patients

Ambulance delays at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in August. Picture: Supplied Ambulance delays at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in August. Picture: Supplied

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
9:52 AM

Thirteen ambulance crews were left queuing outside the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, after the emergency department struggled to cope with “record numbers” of patients.

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The all-too-familar scenes on Friday evening come just weeks after Matt Broad, locality director for the ambulance service in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire, admitted the service was struggling to cope with increased 999 calls.

Ambulance turnaround targets state that it should take no more than 15 minutes from the arrival of an ambulance to the clinical handover of a patient.

But Mr Broad said that the unprecedented surge had prevented the team from meeting their targets.

He said: “So far this summer we have been experiencing an incredibly high number of 999 calls. Friday was a busy day which saw a high number of patients attending the Norfolk and Norwich A&E.

“As a result, several ambulances had to wait longer than usual outside before handing over their patients.”

He added that patients remained the service’s priority and that

crews “continued to monitor and treat the patients while waiting for space”.

After 17 ambulances – the entire fleet serving the N&N – were

left unable to attend 12 emergency calls because of delays in March 2013, hospital bosses pledged to cut A&E wait times.

Chris Cobb, director of medicine and emergency care at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said that improvements had been made.

“On Friday we experienced a high level of demand and our teams worked very hard to clinically prioritise and maintain the safety of all of our patients.

“We have made great improvements in ambulance turnaround times over the last year, establishing an Immediate Assessment Unit and recruiting additional A&E staff to provide quicker assessment and diagnosis for patients.”

But an unprecdented increase in emergency admissions over the last three months resulted in the NHS trust missing its four-hour A&E target in June.

Have you been affected by ambulance delays? Contact health correspondent Adam Gretton on Adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

21 comments

  • Grumbly Ol' Git I'd love to know where you got the 90% figure from because it doesn't correlate to the figures that are released by either the ambulance service or A&E. However, nitpicking aside there undoubtedly IS a large percentage of people who dial 999 and who also clog up GP surgeries who shouldn't. The ambulance service has invested a large amount of money, time and effort in trying to identify if a 999 caller could be referred to another pathway for obtaining help other than by needing an ambulance. In addition ambulance clinicians are able to treat and diagnose many conditions which previously would have required transportation to an A&E dept. These patients are either treated at home and referred back to their GP or help is provided to them by the use of another pathway. Whilst many people do dial 999 inappropriately and whilst certain conditions are always going to get a response fewer and fewer people who aren't in need of transportation are taken by ambulance to A&E. Of course some patients who are either under the influence of alcohol or drugs and through self harm or other conditions will need hospital admission but those numbers don't explain the problems seen in A&E units up and down the country. The majority of problems at A&E are a combination of limited spare capacity and inappropriate use by patients who should be treated in primary care. Regrettably, at present,it appears that the political will to solve that problem is limited.

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    Bad Form

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • The problem we have now days is that people don't know what a real EMERGENCY is! They fell sick - they call for an ambulance, they cut their finger - they call for an ambulance. This is straight from the horses mouth from a friend of mine who works for them!!! 90% of their workload is down to jobs like these. If you didn't have a mobile phone would you or a relative be prepared to walk to the phone box? If the answer is no then it's not an emergency!!!

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    Grumbly Ol' Git

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • This story is about the N&N not the ambulances, so may be we need a hospital watch too. Yes if we educated people what justified an ambulance and fined drunks that can't look after them selfs , may be their Would be ambulance for those who need them.? Is the private funded hospital too small to cope... Was that a question asked years ago ! We not the only ones with hospitals unable to cope ... Read the Cambridge news ... Our main major injuries unit.. O no beds ... NHS needs money and someone who knows what they are doing....

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    DAVE !

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • The NHS in its present form is affordable. No politician wants to admit it but you will either have to increase taxation or start charging if you want to try to avert the NHS collapsing. I wouldn't want to see an increase in taxes as that doesn't do anything to prevent abuse by so many people. The only way to sort the mess out is to start charging for broken appointments and GP visits. Society will also have to start considering less palatable questions about what and who is treated later on. However, and make no mistake, doing nothing isn't a viable option.

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    Bad Form

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Who in their right mind would ever want to work in public healthcare? Its a thankless task. Underpaid and unappreciated. Joe Public wants more and more and pay less for it all. The NHS is expected to do far more with far less. The ambulance service is constantly being hit over the head whether its the chief execs pay being called an outrage or waiting times. Fact is WE have to take responsibility too. Stop calling ambulances for minor injuries such as sprains or strains or using the service as some kind of taxi service when drunk. This excuse for a newspaper even stokes the flames by having a so called "ambulance watch"..... As far as Im concerned we have a choice. Either pay more for the NHS or shut it down and follow the private healthcare model found in many other countries.

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    Tootyfrooty

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • What they don't show is the scene an hour later when the queue had nearly gone due to the hard work of the A&E staff and Ambulance staff working together. It must have been their dinner time! The real problem is the excess primary care calls that ambulances are attending presently. These still have to be referred, if possible, or transported to A&E, normally the latter due to lack of alternative pathways in the community. The general public need to be educated about when calling 999 is appropriate, after all we're not a GP 'out of hours' or a drunk tank service!

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    Newuser07

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Well said Larson .E. Whipsnade as you say all these drunken British teenagers and British Holidaymakers in Spain are taking up space in Spanish hospitals some of whom are wasting hospital time.. and they pay nothing to the Spanish authorities to use Spanish hospitals. and all this is televised for all to see..

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    Footyboy16

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Larson - what nonsense you write! By all means go off to your planet. Of course there are lots more people in the UK and this is having the inevitable consequence for all services, housing etc. Just look at the population figures! But don't let this obscure the issue that the A&E resources need to be better managed and some of causes need to be addressed.

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    andy

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • : ".....there are far too many people now expecting to be treated who have paid nothing into the system....". You mean like in Spain , where A&E departments are inundated with drunken British tourists and other hospital facilities are besieged by elderly British expats who have gone to Spain to die ?.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Not true , and nothing whatever to do with the problems at NNUH. I'm off, as some of us have to live in the real world and work for a living.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • A recent report in the East Midlands showed that an increase in budget for A and E had mostly been spent on employing interpreters for the many different nationalities it is now expected to treat.

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    blister

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • This country is very overcrowded, the roads, railways and airports all work at maximum capacity, likewise the GPs surgeries are overworked as our hospitals, the NHS used to work by people paying into it and then using the facilities, there are far too many people now expecting to be treated who have paid nothing into the system.

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    blister

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Keep 'em coming John.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Vic Sponge

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • "...millions of refugees and other people from overseas are using the service ...". What a load of old rubbish John , as you know already. The only people from overseas at the local A&E are the staff , who do a great job. The department is full of elderly white British patients , as are most of the wards. People are living longer , the out of hours GP cover is mostly poor. And that's it.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • The whole NHS is dealing with more people than it can cope with, millions of refugees and other people from overseas are using the service and they need treating as much as anyone else so we must all learn to be more patient and wait a bit longer for treatment.

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    blister

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • "failes" - another Archant epic!

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    Cyril the Canary

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Why is anyone surprised that services and in fact the whole infrastructure is under immense pressure?

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    Vic Sponge

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • failes or fails? how should the headline read , when I was at school it was fails.

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    Kristafa

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • The N&N, like other parts of the Health Service, is a mixed bag. Sometimes very good indeed, sometimes really bad and in need of a culture change. Is it really that difficult to get a few more patients into A&E? Why are the resources not better managed and prioritised? The ambulance crew has already made an initial assessment so get the patients into A&E and then prioritise who is treated first within that ward. Within A&E, if a patient is assessed as not being in need of total priority, is the doctor or nurse who assessed that patient obliged to stay with the individual until they become the number one on the list? Of course not so why apply different standards to ambulance admissions? Keeping limited emergency resources waiting is inexcusable when they may be needed elsewhere.

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    andy

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • There was an article in a newspaper yesterday , one A&E department had a GP on duty to screen minor cases . Each GP would do one day a week , so seven to cover each week .

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    dragonfly

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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