Ambulance Watch: Handover times improve at Norwich hospital for patients facing long waits

Ambulances parked up outside A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bra

Ambulances parked up outside A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

Ambulance handover times have improved at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for a second month in a row but are still off the target.

Reports of ambulances backed up while waiting to drop patients off embarrassed health chiefs earlier this year, but since March, when 17 ambulances were left queuing, and the start of April, when a tent had to be erected outside A&E, handover times have fallen.

The latest figures show that during May, 16 patients waited for more than 60 minutes to be handed over from the ambulance to A&E, compared to 109 patients who waited for over an hour in April.

Of those who waited in April, 102 were in the first half of the month, during which time emergency care was under intense pressure.

Medical director Prof Krishna Sethia said: 'This improved performance is down to the hard work of our front-line staff and continued collaborative working with the new Clinical Commissioning Groups as well as our health and social care partners in Norfolk.'

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An N&N spokesman said 'new ways of working' had been introduced, including prioritising the unloading of ambulances.

She said: 'This has helped to speed up how patients are transferred into A&E and onto our acute medical unit and wards.

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'We've also temporarily increased staffing to match the recent very significant increase in demand at weekends, while we recruit additional posts which will be made possible by £2.5m of funding from the CCGs.'

During May, there were 3,343 ambulance arrivals at the N&N and the average handover time was just under 17 minutes. In April it was almost 24 minutes.

The hospital is required to meet a target of 85pc of patients being seen within 15 minutes of their arrival by ambulance. Its latest figure is 76pc.

The spokesman said the performance against the targets was 'steadily improving'.

She added: 'Fifteen-minute handovers are much more challenging to manage because of the very significant volumes of ambulances arriving at NNUH.'

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