Ambulance Watch: Hospital slashes ambulance delays outside A&E

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

Health chiefs pledged to continue to improve after revealing a dramatic improvement in ambulance turnaround times at the region's busiest A&E department.

Officials at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said ambulance delays outside the front door of the Colney hospital had been slashed by 75pc since the start of the year.

The establishment of a new Immediate Assessment Unit (IAU) and introduction of Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officers (HALO) in A&E have sped up patient handovers, which has elevated the hospital trust from bottom of the table to one of the best performing in the East of England for ambulance turnarounds, councillors were told.

Members of the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee today praised the efforts of managers at the N&N, East of England Ambulance Service, and local Clinical Commissioning Groups who have been working to reduce ambulance delay's at the Norfolk hospital.

It comes after an emergency tent was constructed outside A&E on Easter Monday after around 15 ambulances were queued outside the hospital as a result of unprecedented demand.

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Officials from the hospital said the average ambulance waiting times at the N&N had been cut from 25 minutes last year to 16 minutes in 2013, despite an 18pc increase in ambulance arrivals.

Chris Cobb, director of medicine at the hospital, said the NHS trust's aim was to ensure all patients were handed over from ambulance to A&E within 15 minutes. He added that only one ambulance had waited more than an hour outside the hospital in the last six months.

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'It is the right step to deliver the adequate turnaround times all of the time. We are not complacent and there is quite a bit of work to do,' he said.

The percentage of patients handed over to the N&N in 15 minutes has gone up from 53pc in April to 66pc in September.

Councillors heard that fines for missed ambulance turnaround targets amounted to £46,400 for the last six months and predicted fines for 2013/14 had been £3m. The committee heard that the sum of any fines would be ploughed back into emergency care in central Norfolk.

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