Pledge over Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital ambulance delays welcomed by MP

Health bosses have pledged to work together to prevent ambulances from being delayed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The chief executives from the hospital, the East of England Ambulance Trust and NHS Norfolk yesterday met North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb to discuss problems with turnaround times at the Colney hospital.

Mr Lamb had called for a meeting after hearing concerns from paramedics that as many as 12 ambulances had been seen queuing outside the hospital.

A recent report by the Care Quality Commission found the East of England Ambulance Service had one of the highest amounts of hours lost due to delays at hospitals in the country.

East of England Ambulance Service crews aim to hand patients to accident and emergency staff within a maximum of 15 minutes – but the target was missed on more than 47,000 occasions in the county from November 2008 to October 2011.

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The average handover time was more than three minutes longer than expected at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) and Mr Lamb has been pushing for action.

Following yesterday's meeting at the hospital, the N&N's chief executive Anna Dugdale said: 'The meeting has identified a number of opportunities for us to work together to improve performance.

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'Reducing turnaround times requires a co-ordinated approach from the whole health system and we are very encouraged by the discussions today.

'For our part, we are working on changes right across the hospital which will support our front door and provide an excellent service for patients.'

Hayden Newton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, said: 'This has been a very productive meeting and we are now looking ahead by focusing on embedding best practice with our partners across the region.

'Joint working is key to delivering improvements and we are confident they can be made.'

Liberal Democrat MP Mr Lamb said: 'I think it was a very useful meeting. This has been a problem which has gone on for years. It is one of the busiest hospitals in the east of England and it is seeing an increase in accident and emergency each year.

'It's critical that the ambulance trust and the hospital work closely together to resolve the problem.'

He said targets had been set to have 85pc of patients who arrive by ambulance at the hospital handed over within 15 minutes.

Health bosses aim to hit that target by October and Mr Lamb said: 'That would be a significant improvement after years of this problem being unresolved.'

He said the hospital was planning earlier assessments of the needs of patients brought in on trolleys, while the ambulance service was looking at whether ambulances in Norfolk could carry blood stocks with them to speed up treatment.

Mr Lamb said: 'There is a new focus on this problem and I am very pleased about that. There does seem to be a determination to work together to get this sorted.

'It's essential that it is sorted out because when an ambulance is delayed at the N&N it means it can't be somewhere else, so this really can be a matter of life and death.'

• Do you have a health story? Call Norwich Evening News health reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email

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