Ambulance Watch: Seriousness of queues outside Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is played down
- Credit: Archant
Reports of 12 ambulances being queued outside the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have been played down by the N&N's chief executive.
The hospital was criticised last week after East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) staff pitched an inflatable tent outside its accident and emergency (A&E) department on Easter Monday.
The tent was on the brink of being used as a makeshift ward as delays in handing over patients to the hospital meant some people were sat in ambulances queuing outside A&E for more than three hours.
The knock-on effect of this meant ambulances were unable to attend other emergency calls.
The EDP's Ambulance Watch campaign has been highlighting the failings of EEAST in recent months, including problems in patients being handed over to A&E staff by paramedic crews.
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Reader reports of 12 ambulances queuing outside the N&N on Sunday afternoon came less than a week after Andrew Morgan, interim chief executive of EEAST, said 'we are absolutely committed to working with all our NHS partners to resolve this matter once and for all'.
A spokesman from EEAST confirmed the reports were correct but played down the seriousness of the queues outside the N&N on this occasion.
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The spokesman said: 'We did not setup any escalation areas outside of the hospital and our medical director, Dr Pamela Crispin, and interim chair, Paul Remington, were on a pre-planned visit to engage with our staff.'
Mr Remington stepped up from his role of vice-chairman at the end of last month when Maria Ball resigned as chairman, just a week after the Care Quality Commission had issued a damning report which found that the service was failing to deliver on 'care and welfare of people who use the service'.
Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the N&N, insisted there were no major problems on Sunday but that the hospital's A&E department was just 'extremely busy' - with similar patient levels to Easter Monday.
'There was a very high demand for emergency services across the region and along with the other hospitals we were extremely busy,' Mrs Dugdale said.
'Over 300 people attended A&E with large volumes of patients brought in by ambulance. We worked with our partners in the ambulance service and clinical commissioning groups throughout the day to manage the situation and at no point did we have 12 ambulances queuing to offload.
'At various points we may have had this number of vehicles parked outside the A&E department, this will have included vehicles that had already offloaded and were waiting to be despatched.'