Public using incorrect hospital A&E access leading to ambulance delays

PUBLISHED: 09:11 24 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 25 March 2019

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department.

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Ambulances are being delayed by the public using the incorrect access to A&E at Norfolk’s largest hospital, a technician has claimed.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick ButcherThe Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has a specific drop-off area for the public driving to its accident and emergency department.

But despite signs and barriers being put up, people continue to drive down the ambulance access road, which is leading to delays.

An ambulance technician, speaking anonymously, said: “It still remains the case that members of the public are regularly attempting to get to A&E by ignoring the barriers and signs.

“This, at times, impedes the progress of emergency vehicles while they do a three-point turn to get back to the correct, signposted parking area.”

The technician said signs clearly state access is for emergency vehicles only, while others direct people to the appropriate public entry point.

The NNUH said it reconfigured public access to A&E in December as part of work to build a rapid assessment and treatment unit for patients arriving by ambulance.

A hospital spokesman urged people not to drive down the ambulance access as it needs to be kept clear at all time for emergency vehicles.

The ambulance technician said: “Anyone choosing to attend A&E, having previously known the way there, may be overwhelmed by their concern, and make this mistake.

“This, in effect, leads to a real-time delay to them getting to the care and assistance they need. “In addition, as criticism of ambulance response times seems to be a hot topic, an ambulance attempting to respond to a call waiting for a car to turn around because they didn’t read the signs is also not great.”

Ambulance response times went from an average of around 14 minutes in January this year to more than 28 minutes in February - 10 minutes longer than the national standard.

A report to Norfolk County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee in February revealed a high level of ambulance hours were lost during patient handovers to hospitals.

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Since the amendment of hospital signs, we have not experienced problems with members of the public using the ambulance access to A&E but would always encourage our staff and anyone using the hospital to report any issues.”

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