A total of more than 5,000 ambulance staff hours were lost last year because of long handover delays at Norfolk’s main hospital, according to new figures.

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Officials from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the East of England Ambulance Service will be brought back before Norfolk County Councillors next week to explain why some patients are waiting more than an hour in the back of an ambulance at the doors of the Colney site.

The ambulance trust says that handover delays at the N&N are the worst across the six counties it serves.

And new figures show that between April and January, 42pc of ambulance journeys took more than the expected 30 minutes from arriving at hospital, handing over patients, and vehicle turnaround. A total of 13pc of patient journeys took more than 60 minutes to clear because of handover delays.

A report to the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee says that a grand total of 5,412 East of England Ambulance Trust staff hours were lost in those ten months because of delays at the N&N - the equivalent to 451 shifts.

The ambulance trust, which is failing to hit response targets, says addressing handover problems is one of the key factors in helping to improve services. However, despite measures to speed up handovers, 46pc of cases fail to hit the 15 minute target to handover patients following arrival at the Colney site and 23pc of ambulances are not receiving the clear to leave within 15 minutes after handover.

Officials from the East of England Ambulance Service, N&N and the five new local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) have been called to answer councillors’ questions at a meeting on Thursday.

The health overview and scrutiny committee were told in July about a number of steps to improve handovers policy, including establishing a zero tolerance policy to ambulance waits, developing a ‘see and treat’ service for minor patients and fines if less than 80pc of patients a month are not handed over at the hospital within 15 minutes.

Operation Domino was launched last year, which involves all health and social care organisations in central Norfolk to improve emergency and urgent care services.

Chris Cobb, director of medicine and emergency care at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said in a letter that the emergency care department had already changed the way it works to assess and discharge patients more quickly.

“However, there are still a number of further changes required that are hindered by the wider national shortage of A&E doctors and acute physicians, both qualified at consultant level and in training and by factors outside of the control of the NNUH,” he said.

He added there had been a 3pc increase in emergency demand in 2012/13 and 40 to 80 medically stable patients were occupying acute beds every day, creating a “bottleneck at the front door.”

An ambulance service spokesman said: “Obviously any delays at hospital resulting in patient handover delays mean time off the road for our crews who are not available to respond to other 999 patients in the community. However, we continue to work closely with hospitals, the Strategic Health Authority and our commissioners to proactively tackle this issue.”

9 comments

  • There is nothing good you can say about the Ambulance Service, if I need an ambulance I have told my wife to ring for a taxi as they will get to me before any ambulance and I have also told her not to take me to the Norfolk and Norwich as they are also not performing to standards. this is not a knew problem with the Ambulance Service it has been going on for years, I remember going to school once and my elderly neighbour lay on her kitchen floor with her husband beside her, an ambulance had been called, I come back from school hours later in the afternoon and she still laid on the floor waiting for an ambulance. (Perfessionals you must be joking)

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    Footyboy16

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • 2 years ago I was taken to A & E at Norfolk & Norwich by ambulance. The first sight that greeted me was uniformed nurses standing at the back door of A & E smoking cigarettes. Not a good impression.

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    samphirelover

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • To Larson E Whipsnade. Of course it's true. When you are taken in on blue lights you don't go through the main A & E where you have to sit and wait for your turn. I was taken straight in to an area where I was treated quickly without seeing receptionists etc. Why do you think I'm not telling the truth? I can't imagine the staff would risk smoking at the main doors of A & E can you? Or maybe you can! They would only be seen by ambulance drivers and a few patients at the back door. Regarding your other comments I post regularly on all sorts of topics and very often my posts are positive and cheery. I could say that you are always picking faults in other peoples posts ..... but I won't!

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    samphirelover

    Saturday, March 2, 2013

  • ambulance took 10 minutes to get to the hospital.

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    sibs Wesley

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • I don't blame the ambulance service at all but my 17 year old daughter who has a disability needed the ambulance on the 17th February 2013 and the ambulance arrived from Beccles ( I live between an ambulance station at Hellesdon and Longwater Norwich) but waited over an hour and a half, then got to hospital and had to wait another 2 to 3 hours before the drs saw her in A and E. 24 hours later we were told that she had a blood clot in a vein in her brain which was also swelling up.

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    sibs Wesley

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • These delays just show how poorly organised the N&N is. It is easy to blame lack of money but poor management, poor organisation and militant unions are more likely

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • ***The first sight that greeted me was uniformed nurses standing at the back door of A & E smoking cigarettes.***. As you would have been delivered to the front door that can't possibly be true can it ? And have you ever left a comment on here that is not moaning , complaining , criticising , negative etc etc ?

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Saturday, March 2, 2013

  • I am glad that's cleared up. Was starting to worry that it might be Government spending cuts at the heart of it. How much money will be watsed bringing spin merchants from 7 separate NHS quangos before a meeting of an NCC scrutiny committee lacking in the power to influence or change anything that is going on in the NHS? It will be pure political pantomime, the thought process presumably being "let's grab some favourable publicity by calling for improvements like what the MPs have all been doing like" in order to make it appear to the voting public that county councillors are somehow relevant and actually not a bunch of out-of-touch megalomaniacs disinterested in the public's views. The latter only applies in the case of Saddlebow, or Coltishall, or the NDR, or the outer harbour. Actually quite a lot of things now you come to mention it!

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • Still, in the next 10 years or so we shall have another 37,000 households to look forward to to place extra demands on the N&N which already can't cope and not just in A&E. Perhaps all the Development Tax from the new builds they expect to get should be spent solely on a new additional hospital or very big expansion of the existing hospital rather than wasting it on the NDR etc?

    Report this comment

    andy

    Friday, March 1, 2013

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