Patient ambulance delays halve at hospital in second Covid spike

Further coronavirus deaths have been announced at the Queen Elizabeth and Norfolk and Norwich hospit

Figures have revealed how Norfolk's hospitals have performed in terms of ambulance waiting times - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk hospital has halved the number of patients waiting more than 30 minutes to be admitted to A&E after arriving in an ambulance this winter compared to last year, figures have revealed.

In the seven days up to March 1, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital recorded just four ambulance delays greater than 30 minutes compared to 278 in the same week last year.

Over the course of the winter (December 2 to March 1), during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the hospital recorded 1,460 handovers delayed more than 30 minutes down from 3,900 last winter. 

But while the NNUH has cut figures by half, the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston has seen a 54pc rise in the number of patient handovers taking longer than half an hour.

The hospital recorded more ambulance delays between Dec 1, 2020, and Jan 17, 2021, than the whole of last winter and a total of 1,100.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, 969 patient handovers were delayed, down from 1003 the last winter.

Across the county, more than 3,500 patients waited more than 30 minutes before entering hospital after arriving in an ambulance this winter.

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National guidance says patients arriving at an emergency department by ambulance must be handed over to the care of A&E staff within 15 minutes.

Once admitted to A&E, the county's hospitals all reported improved treatment times, with the number of patients being seen within four hours increasing but still below official targets of 95pc and for all but one, below the national average.

Figures for February 2021 show the 76.8pc of A&E patients at the JPUH were seen within four hours, up from 68pc in January.

The QEH reported 83.5pc of patients were seen within the four-hour window, up from a record low of 67.1pc in December and making it the best performing of the county's hospitals.

While at the NNUH, 77.6pc of patients were seen within the specified time, 10 percentage points better than pre-COVID levels when the hospital had the lowest rate in the country.

The JPUH's most recent operational performance report found the coronavirus pandemic has caused "significant and sustained changes to the delivery of acute hospital care".

It also found the "standards for ambulance handovers and time in the department" had "been significantly impacted by the increase in Covid patients in the hospital".

Sam Higginson, chief executive at the NNUH, said: “Staff have remained focused on improving our emergency department performance, including our ambulance handover times, throughout the pandemic and it’s pleasing to see positive change being made and maintained and I would like to thank them for their continued hard work and commitment to high quality care.”

The QEH and JPUH were contacted for comment.