East of England Ambulance Service.

How tracking devices will monitor ambulance handover times at N&N

Thursday, November 29, 2012
11.26 AM

Health chiefs are set to install tracking devices on ambulance trolleys in a bid to monitor the handover of patients to Norfolk’s biggest hospital.

Officials at NHS Norfolk and Waveney said they were stepping up ways of monitoring ambulance response and handover times at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital following concerns about the performance of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

One of the ways of helping to improve response times would be the introduction of radio frequency infrared devices (RFID), which would be fitted to trolleys and A&E doors to record the time it takes to get patients to hospital.

Sallie Mills-Lewis, interim director of commissioning of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, told members of the trust board yesterday that the tracking system, which would need to be installed at all seven ambulance handover points at the N&N, would accurately record arrival times. The system would cost up to £50,000 to install as well as £15,000 for management costs and £6,000 a year for software and maintenance.

She added that the RFID was part of a package of measures to improve the monitoring of ambulance response times, which also involved more regular meetings NHS Norfolk and Waveney staff were having with ambulance chiefs and the N&N over handover delays.

The director added that the ongoing issue with ambulance response times was a “system-wide” problem that all parties were responsible for. NHS Norfolk and Waveney has also initiated Project Domino, to identify and address specific gaps in urgent care and to focus on ambulance turnaround delays

A recent report showed that in a four-week period this autumn, the hospital at Colney was accountable for 144 out of 378 of the instances when there were excessive handover delays, which is hampering the ambulance service trust’s

A new agreement is in place, which means the hospital will be fined £70 per hour for ambulance handover delays that are aimed to be completed within 15 minutes.

Figures show that between April and October, the ambulance trust hit a 75pc target of responding to category A calls within eight minutes across the region. However, the Norfolk figure was 64pc and the target was 68pc.

Sheila Childerhouse, chairman of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, added that a clearer communication plan needed to be put in place so that the public understand how the service works.

“We need to make sure they have an appropriate level of service and people feel safe,” she said.

Sheila Bremner, chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney, added that the trust would be working closely with the ambulance trust and hospital until the Primary Care Trust is abolished in April and replaced with five Clinical Commissioning Groups.