Ambulances waiting too long at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital

PUBLISHED: 08:29 17 December 2018

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Bosses at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital are looking at ways to speed up the time it takes to hand over patients from ambulance staff to the Emergency Department, having plummeted from being the best performer in the east of England to having less than half of cases meet national targets.

The NHS says no patient should be waiting to be passed to the care of hospital staff for more than 15 minutes after their arrival in an ambulance.

But latest figures show that at Lister Hospital that’s happening in just 44 per cent of cases - significantly lower than 80 per cent in July last year, when bosses boasted a redesign of the handover process had elimintaed inefficiences.

On average, it’s now taking 24 minutes to complete the handover, with some patients waiting more than an hour.

A spokesman for the NHS trust said: “Our hospital, along with many others, experiences high numbers of patients arriving by ambulance, which can affect the time it takes to transfer a patient from an ambulance to the emergency department.

“We are working hard to make changes that will improve the speed of ambulance handovers and are, according to latest figures, seeing improvements in handover times.

“We are monitoring the situation and will continue to made adjustments to make improvements for our patients.”

To speed up the handover process, additional nurses are now being drafted in and a dedicated senior ambulance service officer is being brought in to manage the safe handover of patients at the hospital.

At peak times, when the volume of patients is causing handover delays, ambulances may be directed to alternative hospitals, even if they are further away.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “We recognise reducing handover times increases our capacity to attend patients quickly, and wherever this is an issue we work with hospital trusts to review and improve handover processes.

“At Lister Hospital we are working with their specialist A&E experts to achieve this.”

National targets also say ambulances should be re-stocked, cleaned and available within 15 minutes of handing over a patient, but at Lister that’s the case just 67 per cent of the time.

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