Norfolk & Norwich hospital fined over £24,000 for failing to meet ambulance handover targets

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Date: Aug 2014. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Date: Aug 2014. Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Mike Page

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has been fined more than £24,000 for failing to meet national ambulance handover targets.

Hospitals are required to ensure that patients are handed over to A&E staff within 30 minutes of arrival. They can be faced with fines of up to £1,000 for delays exceeding half an hour.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the county's largest hospital was fined £24,400 in 2014/15.

The figure was less than half the amount the hospital paid the previous year – £60,800.

In 2012/13 it managed to avoid a fine altogether after meeting its targets.

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The national fine is £200 for a delay of over 30 minutes and £1,000 for delays over one hour.

Chris Cobb, director of medicine and emergency services at the hospital, said: 'A combination of more ambulances and patients being sicker has meant that a greater number are being seen in the emergency department. In terms of ambulance activity, the NNUH emergency department is the busiest in the East of England accepting almost double the number of arrivals to the next busiest on a daily basis.'

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He noted that emergency demand had nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

To deal with the increased pressure, a joint handover plan was agreed in November between the hospital, the local clinical commissioning group and East of England Ambulance Trust.

The hospital is also preparing to submit planning permission to double the size of its emergency department in early 2016.

Speaking about the plans, Mr Cobb added: 'The expansion has been carefully planned as part of a range of measures to meet increased demand for emergency care, including the establishment of an urgent care centre.'

Earlier this year the region's ambulance chief, Anthony Marsh, warned that handover delays were reaching 'intolerable' levels at hospitals in Norfolk.

December and January saw some of the worst handover delays in the region.

What do you think? Call health correspondent Nick Carding on 01603 772439

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