Demand for ambulances is 'on par with festive demand'

The East of England Ambulance Service has been plunged into special measures following its latest CQ

The trust set out the current pressures it is facing, including extensive handover delays. - Credit: Archant

Emergency services are experiencing "extensive delays" handing over patients at A&E, as the region's ambulance trust continues to respond to high demand.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) received 4,244 calls a day in July, with around 70pc of those relating to its two most serious categories. 

Deputy operational officer Paul Marshall told EEAST's board meeting on Wednesday that the trust was "on par with festive demand", with up to a third of ambulances waiting at one time to hand over patients. 

The trust's performance in July saw two thirds of handovers take more than 15 minutes to carry out, 21pc more than 30 minutes and 8pc take more than an hour. 

Under NHS targets, crews are meant to be able to hand patients over to the hospital within 15 minutes. 

Mr Marshall said: "It is a challenging time.We are seeing extensive delays handing over patients. It's a very poor patient experience, it adds pressure to our crews, to the staff in [the emergency department] as well. 

"The impact on us is we can have a third of our ambulances waiting to hand over at a hospital, which then impacts on our ability to respond to other patients waiting in the community."

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Papers to the board found Norfolk and Waveney continues to be the busiest area of the trust on Mondays and weekends, with "no obvious" increase in patient types. 

The report said the additional activity is not Covid-19 related. 

Mr Marshall said: "We had a day [this week] where we had over 5,000 calls which is really unprecedented.

"A lot of these calls we have been receiving will be repeated calls where we have seen delays given to patients and they have called in again which adds more stress and pressure on our call handlers."

The trust has issued messages on social media asking patients not to call back after requesting emergency care.  

New chief executive Tom Abell and deputy chief executive and director Tom Davies said Norfolk and Waveney was high on its list in terms of addressing matters, after Cambridge and Peterborough. 

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