Reassurances offered on ambulance handover delays

Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital
Picture by Jane Coltman
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital Picture by Jane Coltman

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has provided reassurances on the extensive work taking place to improve the efficiency of ambulance handovers.

The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, near Cramlington, is now the region’s largest receiving emergency department with more than 3,500 ambulance arrivals every month and more than 100 crews arriving every single day.

In the 12 months since opening the new hospital, many paramedic crews have had to wait longer than 15 minutes before being able to hand over safely their patients to hospital staff.

In the past year, on average, only around 70 per cent of recorded ambulance handovers were made within 15 minutes of arrival, with 90 per cent made within 30 minutes.

In the year prior to the emergency-care changes, more than 80 per cent of all recorded ambulance handovers at Northumbria Healthcare were made within 15 minutes and 95 per cent within 30 minutes.

Like all parts of the NHS and every other North East hospital, the trust has always experienced some delays, especially during times of peak demand and surges in activity.

The trust has, however, acknowledged and apologised for any frustrations felt by patients, paramedics and other staff who have experienced any delay at the new hospital.

Chief executive David Evans said: “By far one of the biggest challenges we have faced since transforming emergency care has been in relation to ambulance handovers and I want to reassure all stakeholders we are absolutely committed to putting this right.

“On behalf of the trust, I sincerely apologise to any patients and indeed to paramedic colleagues and our own staff, who I have no doubt will have felt very frustrated.

“We are working very hard to improve the handover process to make this as swift as possible, especially as we head into winter.”